Ibbetson, Julius Caesar (DNB00)

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IBBETSON, JULIUS CÆSAR (1759–1817), painter, born at Scarborough on 29 Dec. 1759, was son of Richard Ibbetson, who had belonged to the Moravian community at Fulneck in Yorkshire, but had left it on his marriage with the daughter of Julius Mortimer, a neighbouring farmer. He was born prematurely, and owed his second name to the operation which brought him into the world. He was educated first by the Moravians, but subsequently at the quakers' school in Leeds. He was afterwards apprenticed to John Fletcher, a ship-painter at Hull. Ibbetson attracted public attention by his designs for ship decoration and by some scenery painted for the Hull Theatre, and his success encouraged him to seek his fortune in London in 1777. He was forced at first to work for Mr. Clarke, a picture dealer in Leicester Fields, but was able at the same time to acquire a thorough acquaintance with the works and methods of Dutch artists, besides learning all the tricks of the trade. In 1780 he married, and shortly after went to live at Kilburn. In 1785 he exhibited at the Royal Academy 'A View of Northfleet,' and continued to exhibit during succeeding years. Becoming acquainted with Captain William Baillie (1723-1810) [q. v.] and others, he was introduced into good society, and was patronised by the nobility. In 1788 he accepted a post in Colonel Cathcart's embassy to China. Cathcart, however, died at Java during the voyage, and Ibbetson returned to England. He made many drawings during the voyage, and obtained nautical experience, which he afterwards turned to account in his pictures, but was not able to obtain any remuneration on his return. This plunged him into pecuniary difficulties, but he declined an offer to accompany Lord Macartney's later embassy to China. He was also harassed by legal action taken by the firm for whom he had previously worked. In 1794 he lost his wife, who left two sons and a daughter, eight children having already died. This brought on an attack of brain fever, from which he recovered to find that he had been robbed of everything by his servants. He sought relief from his misery in dissipations and convivial society, after the example of his friend, George Morland [q. v.] This only led to further embarrassments, and in 1798 he quitted London for Liverpool to escape his creditors. Ibbetson lived quietly for some time near Ambleside in Westmoreland, visiting Scotland in 1800. In June 1801 he married Bella, daughter of William Thompson of Windermere (d.1839). A sign painted by Ibbetson for an inn at Troutbeck, near Ambleside, had some notoriety (see Notes and Queries, ser. viii. 96). He suffered further pecuniary losses through the defalcations of a friend, but the number of his commissions now enabled him to free himself to some extent from debt. At the invitation of one of his chief patrons, Mr. William Danby of Swinton Park, Ibbetson settled near that place in Masham, Yorkshire. Here he spent the remainder of his days. He died on 13 Oct. 1817, and was buried in Masham churchyard. Of the children by his second wife a son, Julius, and a daughter survived him. His last picture was a view of 'The Market Place at Ambleside with the old Buildings as they stood in 1801.' It was exhibited at the British Institution in 1818, after his death.

As a painter in oil of cattle and pigs Ibbetson has hardly been excelled in England, even by Morland. His paintings lack, however, Morland's freedom of composition, and were usually too small in size to make much effect. In his landscape-painting Ibbetson somewhat resembled Richard Wilson, R.A. He also painted small portraits in a neat and rapid manner. His paintings of animals were much prized, especially in Yorkshire, where they are often to be met with in private houses. Benjamin West called him the 'Berghem' of England. He also painted in water-colour in the old tinted method with great success. Good specimens of his work in this class can be seen in the print room at the British Museum, and at the South Kensington Museum. In 1792 he made some drawings in the West of England, which were aquatinted and published by J. Hassell in 1793 as A Picturesque Guide to Bath (and its Neighbourhood).' In 1803 he published the first part of ' An Accidence or Gamut of Painters in Oil and Water-colours,' illustrating it with examples of both specimens. A second edition was published in 1828 with a memoir and a portrait after J. R. Smith. Ibbetson also published a 'Process of Tinted Drawing,' and executed numerous etchings and aquatints, some of a humorous character. Many of his paintings were engraved. He also made the drawings for Church's 'Cabinet of Quadrupeds,' published in 1796.

[Memoir mentioned above; information from Miss Julia Green; Fisher's History of Masham; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Roget's Old Water-Colour Society; Gent. Mag. 1817, lxxxvii. 637; Catalogues of the Royal Academy and British Institution; Seguier's Dict. of Painters; Redgraves' Century of Painters.]

L. C.