Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Turmeau, John
TURMEAU, JOHN (1777–1846), miniature-painter, born in 1777, came of a Huguenot family long settled in London. His grandfather, Allan Turmeau, was an artist. His father, John Turmeau, who married Eliza Sandry of Cornwall, was a jeweller in London, but it is probable that he also painted miniatures. The name of John Turmeau figures in the catalogue of the Royal Academy exhibition as early as 1772. ‘John Turmeau, jr.,’ studied in the school of the academy, and exhibited two miniatures (portraits) at the Royal Academy in 1794, his address being 23 Villiers Street, Strand. In the following year he sent two more miniatures from the same address, and he continued to exhibit occasionally in London till 1836; but long before that date he had removed to Liverpool, and had six portraits in the first exhibition of the Liverpool Academy 1810, of which body he was a member. His address was given as Church Street. In the Liverpool Academy exhibition of 1811 he had two portraits, one of which was of Thomas Stewart Traill [q. v.] In 1827 he was the treasurer of the Liverpool Academy, and he continued to exhibit regularly, residing at Lord Street, and in later years in Castle Street, where he died on 10 Sept. 1846. He was buried in the Edge Hill churchyard. At all these addresses he carried on the trade of a print-seller and dealer in works of art, as well as the profession of portrait-painter.
Most of Turmeau's work was miniature portrait-painting on ivory, which had all the perfection of finish, colour, and good drawing of the best school of that art. He also painted some portraits in oil, one of which, a portrait of himself, is in the possession of his grandchildren in Liverpool, who have also some exceedingly fine specimens of his work on ivory. Probably his best known portrait is that of Egerton Smith, founder of the ‘Liverpool Mercury,’ which was engraved in 1842 by Wagstaff.
Turmeau married Sarah Wheeler, and had nine children. A son, John Caspar Turmeau (1809–1834), after studying under his father, went to Italy with the idea of completing his education as a landscape-painter. Here he spent much time in Rome with John Gibson (1790–1866) [q. v.], to whom John Turmeau had shown much kindness when he was an apprentice in Liverpool. J. C. Turmeau had an architectural sketch in the Liverpool exhibition of 1827, and after his return from Italy practised as an architect in that town, where he died, unmarried, at his father's house in 1834.[Private information; Lady Eastlake's Life of Gibson, p. 26; Exhibition Catalogues.]