Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Holloway, Thomas (1748-1827)

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HOLLOWAY, THOMAS (1748–1827), engraver, born in Broad Street, London, in 1748, was eldest son of a merchant who was an early follower of Wesley. His mother's portrait was painted by John Russell [q. v.] He was articled to a seal-engraver named Stent, by whom he was chiefly employed in carving steel ornaments. He subsequently attended the Academy schools, and in 1773 first appeared at the Royal Academy as an exhibitor of seals and engraved gems. Later and up to 1792 he was a frequent contributor of miniatures and portraits in oils and crayons, though his chief occupation was line engraving, which he practised with ability. His earliest published plates were small portraits for the magazines, chiefly of nonconformist ministers, with whom he was much associated. He afterwards projected an edition of Lavater's ‘Essays on Physiognomy,’ translated by Dr. Henry Hunter, 5 vols., 1789–98. The work was illustrated with about eight hundred plates executed by Holloway himself, Bartolozzi, Blake, and other good engravers, under the direction of Henry Fuseli, R.A. At this time he produced some of his best portraits, including those of Charles Howard, duke of Norfolk, after Pine, and the Rev. Timothy Priestley, 1792, and Dr. Richard Price, after West, 1793. He was also employed on the illustrations to Boydell's ‘Shakespeare,’ Bowyer's ‘History of England,’ and Bell's ‘British Theatre.’

In 1800, through the influence of Benjamin West, Holloway obtained permission to engrave on a large scale, and with a completeness not previously attempted, the seven cartoons of Raphael then preserved at Windsor, and to this task the remainder of his life was devoted. He engaged as assistants his former pupils, R. Slann and T. S. Webb, each of whom married a niece of Holloway, together with Joseph Thomson, an able artist who died young. They worked together at Windsor until 1814, when the cartoons were removed to Hampton Court. On the completion of the first plate, ‘Paul preaching at Athens,’ in 1806, the king appointed Holloway his historical engraver; the second, ‘Christ's Charge to Peter,’ appeared in 1810; the third, ‘The Death of Ananias,’ in 1816; and the fourth, ‘Elymas,’ in 1820. In that year all the preliminary drawings were finished, and Holloway retired with his associates to Edgefield in Norfolk, and later to Coltishall, near Norwich, to pursue their work on the plates, of which the fifth, ‘The Miraculous Draught of Fishes,’ was issued in 1824. This was the last that Holloway lived to complete. He died unmarried at Coltishall, near Norwich, 29 Feb. 1827, in his 80th year. The sixth plate, ‘Paul and Barnabas at Lystra,’ was then almost finished, and the seventh, ‘Peter and John at the Beautiful Gate,’ commenced. The former appeared in the following year, 1828, but the completion of the latter was delayed until 1839, when it was published with a dedication to the queen, and like the rest bore the names of Holloway, Slann, and Webb as the engravers and publishers. In the original prospectus the set was offered to subscribers for three guineas, and though this was subsequently raised to ten, the undertaking did not prove remunerative. Notwithstanding the skill and elaboration with which the plates were executed, they never found favour with artists, and have failed to supersede the rougher but more vigorous work of Dorigny. He executed crayon portraits of himself and of his nephew, a naval captain. A brother John was at one time a popular lecturer on animal magnetism.

[Memoir, by one of his executors, 1827; Mag. Fine Arts, i. 75; T. Dodd's Manuscript Memoirs of Engravers in Brit. Mus.; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; A. Apell's Handbuch für Kupferstichsammler, 1880; Royal Academy Catalogues.]

F. M. O'D.