Lance, George (DNB00)

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LANCE, GEORGE (1802–1864), painter, was born at the old manor-house of Little Easton, near Dunmow, Essex, on 24 March 1802. His father, who had previously served in a regiment of light horse, was at the time of young Lance's birth an adjutant in the Essex yeomanry, and became afterwards the inspector of the Bow Street horse-patrol. His mother, with whom his father had eloped from boarding-school, was the daughter of Colonel Constable of Beverley, Yorkshire. Although Lance at a very early age showed a predilection for art, his friends placed him, when under fourteen, in a manufactory at Leeds; but the uncongenial work injured his health and he returned to London. Wandering one day into the British Museum, he casually opened a conversation with Charles Landseer, who happened to be drawing there. On learning that Landseer was a pupil of Haydon, he went early next morning to that painter's residence, and asked the terms on which he could become a pupil. Haydon replied that if his drawings promised future success he would instruct him for nothing. Not many days later Lance, still under fourteen, entered Haydon's studio, and remained there seven years, at the same time studying in the schools of the Royal Academy. When designing a picture from Homer's 'Iliad,' he was set, before putting on the colours, to paint some fruit and vegetables, in order to improve his execution. His work attracted the notice of Sir George Beaumont, who purchased it, and this success led him to paint another fruit-piece, which he sold to the Earl of Shaftesbury. He then painted for the Duke of Bedford two fruit-pieces as decorations for a summer-house at Wobern Abbey, and his work proved so profitable that he decided to devote himself to the painting of still-life. He began to exhibit in 1821, when he sent to the British Institution 'A Fruit Boy,' and to the Society of British Artists 'The Mischievous Boy' and two fruit-pieces. In 1828 appeared his first contribution to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy, 'Still Life,' with the quotation from Butler's 'Hudibras:'—

Goose, rabbit, pheasant, pigeons, all
With good brown jug for beer — not small !

Although it was chiefly as a painter of fruit and flowers that Lance gained his reputation, he sometimes produced historical and genre works, and his picture of 'Melanchthon'a First Misgivings of the Church of Rome' won the prize at the Liverpool Academy in 1836. His works appeared most frequently at the exhibitions of the British Institution, to which he contributed in all 135 pictures, but he sent also forty-eight works to the Society of British Artists, and thirty-eight to the Royal Academy. Among these were 'The Wine Cooler,' 1831; 'the Brothers,' 1837; 'Captain Rolando showing to Gil Blas the Treasures of the Cave,' 1839; 'May I have this?' 1840; 'The Ballad" and 'Narcissus,' 1841; 'The Microscope,' 1843; 'The Village Coquette,' 1843; 'The Grandmother's Blessing,' 1844; 'The Biron Conspiracy,' 1845; 'Preparations for a Banquet,' 1816; 'From the Garden, just gathered,' 'From the Lake, just shot,' and 'Red Cap,' a monkey with a red cap on his head, 1847; 'Modern Fruit-Medieval Art,' 1860; 'The Blonde' and 'The Brunette,' 1851; 'The Seneschal.' painted for Sir Morton Peto, 1852; 'Harold,' 1855; 'Fair and Fruitful Italy' and 'Beautiful in Death,' a peacock. 1857; 'The Peacock at Home,' 1858; 'The Golden Age,' 1859; 'A Sunny Bank,' 1861; and 'A Gleam of Sunshine' and 'The Burgomaster's Dessert,' 1862'. Besides these he exhibited many fruit-pieces and pictures of dead game, painted with great richness of colour and truthfulness to nature. The National Gallery possesses 'A Basket of Fruit, Pineapple, and Bird's Nest.' 'Red Cap,' a replica of the picture painted in 1847, 'Fruit: Pineapple, Grapes, and Melon, &c.,' and 'A Fruit Piece,' the three first of which belong to the Vernon collection. Two fruit-pieces and a portrait of himself, painted about 1830, are in the South Kensington Museum.

Lance died at the residence of his son, Sunnyside, near Birkenhead, on 18 June 1864. His most distinguished pupils were Sir John Gilbert and William Duffield, the latter an artist of great promise, who died young in 1863.

[Art Journal. 1867 pp. S05-7 (from information supplied by the paintor). 1864 p. 242; Redgraves' Century of Painters of the English School, 1890. p. 418; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Graves, 1886-9, ii. 9; Descriptive and Historical Cat. of Pictures in the National Gallery, British and Modern Schools, 1889; Royal Academy Exhibition Catalogues, 1828-62; British Institution Exhibition Catalogues (Living Artists), 1824-62.]

R. E. G.