Stephanoff, Francis Philip (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 54
Stephanoff, Francis Philip

by Freeman Marius O'Donoghue
Philip Francis Stephanoff in the ODNB; date of birty there 1787/8.

STEPHANOFF, FRANCIS PHILIP (1790?–1860), painter, was born in Brompton Row, London, about 1790. His father, Fileter N. Stephanoff, was a Russian who settled in England and found employment in painting ceilings, stage scenery, &c., until he died by his own hand about 1790; his mother, Gertrude Stephanoff, was an accomplished flower-painter, much patronised by Sir Joseph Banks, and died on 7 Jan. 1808. Francis became a popular painter of historical and domestic subjects, working both in oils and watercolours; he exhibited largely at the Royal Academy and British Institution from 1807 to 1845, and with the ‘Old Watercolour’ Society from 1815 to 1820. His best works were: ‘The Trial of Algernon Sidney,’ ‘Cranmer revoking his Recantation,’ ‘Poor Relations,’ and ‘The Reconciliation,’ which were well engraved; he also furnished many graceful designs for the ‘Keepsake’ and other annuals. For Sir George Nayler's sumptuous work on the coronation of George IV he drew in watercolours a series of costume portraits, which is now in the South Kensington Museum. At the Westminster Hall competition in 1843 Stephanoff gained a prize of 100l. for a scene from Milton's ‘Comus.’ The sudden death of his wife, Selina Roland, seriously affected his health, and he ceased the practice of his art many years before his death, which occurred at West Hanham, near Bristol, on 15 May 1860.

James Stephanoff (1788?–1874), elder brother of Francis, was born in Brompton Row about 1788. He worked exclusively in watercolours, and excelled in the representation of public ceremonies and historical incidents which required the skilful grouping of large numbers of figures; among his works of this class were ‘The Fair held in Hyde Park in 1814,’ ‘The Interior of the House of Lords during the important Investigation of 1820’ (engraved); ‘Interior of the House of Commons during the Reform Era,’ and ‘Reception of the Queen by the Lord Mayor on 9 Nov. 1837.’ He was elected an associate of the ‘Old Watercolour’ Society in 1819, and contributed constantly to its exhibitions up to 1859, sending chiefly subjects from the poets and novelists, some of which were engraved for the annuals. He executed some of the drawings for Pyne's ‘Royal Residences’ and Nayler's ‘Coronation of George IV,’ and in 1830 was appointed historical painter in watercolours to William IV. Stephanoff was one of the founders of the Sketching Society. He was much interested in antiquarian matters, and made drawings of St. Cuthbert's stole at Durham for the Society of Antiquaries. He resigned his membership of the ‘Old Watercolour’ Society in 1861 and retired to Bristol, where he died in 1874. By his wife, Lucy Allen, he had two sons and two daughters.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Ottley's Dict. of Painters and Engravers; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1893; Art Journal, 1860; Roget's Hist. of the ‘Old Watercolour’ Society.]

F. M. O'D.