Inchbold, John William (DNB00)

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INCHBOLD, JOHN WILLIAM (1830–1888), painter, was born 29 April 1830 at Leeds, where Thomas Inchbold, his father, was proprietor and editor of the 'Leeds Intelligencer.' Manifesting a great talent for drawing in his boyhood, he was placed as a draughtsman in the lithographic works of Messrs. Day & Haghe. He soon became a pupil of Louis Haghe, the water-colour painter, and was a student at the Royal Academy in 1847. He exhibited at the Society of British Artists in 1849, at the Academy in 1851, and in 1855 gained the enthusiastic praise of Ruskin by his picture, `The Moorland,' painted in illustration of a famous passage in 'Locksley Hall.' His `White of Rylstone' was purchased by Mr. Ruskin. These were almost his only pictures connected by their titles with poetical fancy or legend, the landscapes which down to 1885 he continued, in spite of incessant discouragement, to contribute to the Academy, being chiefly topographical; and perhaps Ruskin's praise of his stern fidelity made him too merely literal a transcriber of nature. His best-known works are probably 'The Jungfrau' (1857), 'On the Lake of Thun' (1860), 'Tintagel' (1862), 'Gordale Scar' (1876), and 'Drifting' (1886); the last-named is in the possession of Mr. Coventry Patmore. Inchbold was happy all his life in the friendship of poets and men of genius, which consoled him for the hostility of the Academy and the indifference of the public. His faults, especially the frequent hardness and chilliness of his general effects, contrasted with the over-brightness of particular portions, undoubtedly militated against the general attractiveness of his work; his failings were obtrusive, and the recognition of his merits demanded insight and sympathy. For fidelity, delicacy, and true though unadorned poetry of feeling, no painter of his day stood higher. Tennyson, Browning, Lord Houghton, and Sir Henry Thompson were among his admirers and supporters, and in Dr. Russell Reynolds he found a liberal and discriminating patron. A year or two before his death he had returned from Algeria with a large collection of sketches, in which the ordinary defects of his manner were less apparent. He died suddenly of disease of the heart at Headingley, near Leeds, 23 Jan. 1888. His memory was shortly afterwards honoured by Mr. Swinburne in a funereal ode of surpassing beauty. Inchbold himself was a poet of considerable mark; the sonnets in his 'Annus Amoris,' 1877, are interesting tokens of a refined and poetical mind, though perhaps not one possesses the finish and concentration demanded by this most difficult form of composition.

[Athenæum, 4 Feb. 1888; personal knowledge.]

R. G.