ker Soc. 3 Zur. 208, &c. (see Gough's Index); Foxe's Acts, v. 337, 351, 835, vi. 413, 533, 536, 588, vii. 43, 499; Burnet's Hist. Ref. i. 150, 271, iii. 254, 264, 346; Wilkins's Concilia, iii. 725, 737; Machyn's Diary, 51, 80, 81, 286; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 436; Cooper's Ath. Cant. i. 215.]
CROME, JOHN (1768–1821), landscape-painter, called ‘Old Crome’ to distinguish him from his son, John Berney (or more properly Barney) Crome [q. v.], son of a poor journeyman weaver, was born at Norwich 22 Dec. 1768, in a low public-house in the parish of St. George's, Tombland. He could hardly be said to have enjoyed the common instruction of the most ordinary schools. At the age of twelve he began life as errand-boy to Dr. Rigby, a physician in Norwich, the father of the present Lady Eastlake. The pranks he played and the punishment he received for them while with the good-natured doctor were often laughingly recounted by him in after life; but the employment was uncongenial, and in 1783 he apprenticed himself for seven years to Francis Whisler, a house, coach, and sign painter, and after his term was up worked as journeyman for Whisler, and is said to have been the first to introduce into Norwich the art of ‘graining’ or painting surfaces in imitation of polished wood. Among the signs he is known to have painted were ‘The Two Brewers,’ ‘The Guardian Angel,’ and ‘The Sawyers.’ The first and last of these (if not all three) are still in existence. His taste for landscape art showed itself during this period, and he formed an intimate friendship with another lad of similar tastes. This was Robert Ladbrooke, who also afterwards became celebrated as a landscape-painter, but who at this time was apprenticed to a printer. Crome and Ladbrooke took a garret together, employed their leisure in sketching in the fields and lanes about Norwich, and occasionally bought a print for the purpose of copying it. Their first art patrons were Smith & Jaggers, printsellers, of Norwich. Ladbrooke painted portraits at five shillings a head, and Crome painted landscapes for which he sometimes got as much as thirty shillings. This partnership lasted about two years, and then and after Crome is said to have had a very hard struggle, and to have been put to strange shifts to gain a livelihood. His efforts, however, attracted the attention of Mr. Thomas Harvey of Catton, Norfolk, who introduced him to good society as a teacher of drawing. Mr. Harvey, besides being something of an artist himself, possessed a small collection of Flemish and Dutch pictures, to which he allowed Crome access, thus, as has been well said, ‘affording him an opportunity of studying the works of a group of masters who had arrived at the highest excellence under almost exactly the same conditions of climate and scenery as those in which he himself was placed.’ Mr. Harvey had also some Gainsboroughs, including the famous ‘Cottage Door,’ which Crome copied. He found other friends in Mr. John Gurney of Earlham, Mr. Dawson Turner [q. v.], and Sir William Beechey, R.A. [q. v.] The last named, who had himself begun life as a house-painter in Norwich, gave him instruction in painting, and wrote: ‘Crome, when I knew him, must have been about twenty years old, and was a very awkward, uninformed country lad, but extremely shrewd in all his remarks upon art, though he wanted words and terms to express his meaning.’ According to Mrs. Opie, her husband the artist also assisted Crome in his painting, but not before 1798.
Crome and Ladbrooke married sisters of the name of Barney, and though the exact date of Crome's marriage is not known, it is certain that it was an early one, and that he supported his increasing family mainly by giving lessons in drawing. This family consisted of at least two daughters and six sons, the eldest of whom, baptised John Barney, after his father and mother, was born in 1794. One of these children died in infancy, more than one of his sons besides John followed the profession of an artist, as did his daughter Emily, but none of them attained much reputation except John. His drawing lessons brought him for a long period better remuneration than landscape-painting, and were useful in introducing him to good families in the neighbourhood. ‘As a teacher,’ says Dawson Turner in the memoir prefixed to the edition of Crome's etchings in 1838, ‘he was eminently successful. He seldom failed to inspire into his pupils a portion of his own enthusiasm.’ He used to teach in the open air, although he generally painted his pictures in his studio. Once a brother-painter met him out in the fields surrounded by a number of young people, and remarked, ‘Why, I thought I had left you in the city engaged in your school.’ ‘I am in my school,’ replied Crome, ‘and teaching my scholars from the only true examples. Do you think,’ pointing to a lovely distant view, ‘that either you and I can do better than that?’
Thus he lived from year to year, teaching, painting, and studying always, content in the main with his local scenery and his local reputation, which increased year by year till his death. He paid an occasional visit to London, where he was always welcome in the studio and at the dinner-table of Sir