Hoare, William

, an ingenious and amiable English artist, was born about the year 1707, at Eye, near Ipswich, in Suftblk. His father was possessed of considerable property, holding a farm of large extent in his own hands. William shewing very early a disposition to study, was sent to a. school at Faringdon in Berkshire, where the master enjoyed a hii;h reputation for classical learning. The pupil eagerly availed himself of every opportunity of improvement, and in the course of a few years attained such a degree of proficiency as to assist his master occasionally in the tuition of the other scholars. To these acquirements he added no indifferent skill in drawing, which was also taught in the school; and he soon distinguished himself above his competitors in the prize exhibitions, which took place once a year. Indulging the bent of his mind to this art, he solicited and obtained his father’s permission to follow his studies in painting with a professional view. For this purpose, after having completed the school courses with great credit to himself, he was removed to London, where he was placed under the care of Grisoni, an Italian painter of history, the best, and perhaps the only one, which that time afforded. Grisoni, however, was at the best a very poor painter, and the example of his works was little calculated to produce eminence in his scholar. But he was a man of sound judgment and benevolent disposition, and it is probable that the sense of his own insufficiency induced him to persuade young William to seek a more satisfactory guidance in the pursuit to which he devoted himself so earnestly. The schools’ of Italy appeared to him the place to which a learner should resort for the means of accomplishment in his art. William | caught the suggestion with eagerness, and the father’s permission was again earnestly sought, for visiting the foreign treasures of painting and sculpture, which were then known to the English only through the communications of such of our gentlemen and nobility as travelled on the continent for the purposes of polite accomplishment. William Hoare was the first English painter who visited Rome for professional study.

At the time of his departure from London he had formed a friendship with Scheemackers, the celebrated Flemish sculptor, and with Delvaux, his pupil, who were both on their way to Rome, and on his arrival at that city he hastened to rejoin them, and lodged in the same house with them. His next care was to place himself in the school of Francesco Imperiale, the disciple of Carlo Maratti, and the most eminent master then living. In this school he was a fellow-xstudent with Pompeo Battoni, with whom he maintained through life a cordial friendship, and with others of the same profession. Here he acquired a thorough knowledge of all that could be taught in his art, and a perfect acquaintance with the system and method of study adopted in the Roman school ever since the time of Raffaelle; to which method he at all times adhered in the execution of historical works.

Under the direction of Imperiale, Mr. Hoare made many copies from the most celebrated works of the great painters in the Roman palaces; a circumstance which became of great utility to him in a very different manner from that which was intended; for the circumstances of his family having been unfortunately impaired by the explosion of the South Sea adventure, he now found it necessary to turn the skill he had gained to a provision for his own maintenance. This was no difficult task, and he continued his studies at Rome for the term of nine years, when he finally returned to London, bringing with him the few copies of the finest works which he had been able to preserve for himself, and the most enthusiastic feelings in regard of his art.

In London the young painter looked around in vain for the encouragement which he had hoped to find in the historical department of his profession; and the impoverished state of his family not allowing him any alternative, he immediately resorted to portrait-painting, in which, from his superior talents, he was sure to find an unfailing | resource. In this situation of his circumstances he formed a matrimonial engagement with a young lady of the name of Barker, between whose relations and his own there had long subsisted the most cordial intimacy, arising from mutual respect. Among the connexions of Miss Barker’s family were some who were established at Bath, and Mr. Hoare soon received an invitation to settle at that city, where, as there was no person of any eminence in his profession, he might reasonably look to the highest prospects of success. He accordingly accepted the invitation, and fully realized the expectations of his friends in every point. His painting-room was the resort of all that could boast the attractions either of beauty or fashion; and the number of his sitters was for a long time so great, as scarcely to allow him a momentary interval of relaxation, much less sufficient leisure for such an attention to the higher performances of his art as formed the constant object of his wishes.

His eminent success in his portraits brought to his gallery all the distinguished characters of the time, who occasionally visited Bath for health or pleasure; among whom, were Mr. Pitt, the Duke of Newcastle, Mr. Legge, Mr. Grenville, Lord Chesterfield, &c. &c. and his acquaintance with them was improved into friendship on their part, by the variety of his learning, the amenity of his manners, the ingenuousness of his mind, and the high respectability of his domestic establishment. To the list of his friends and patrons were soon added the virtuous Allen, and his learned nephew-in-law, Warburton; and Mr. Allen’s house, where he was always a welcome visitor, gave him also an introduction to Pope, and other distinguished inmates of Prior-park.

In the midst of such society and such success, life might have been passed with sufficient enjoyment and ease; but the indulgences attendant on so prosperous a career did not diminish his ardour for higher excellence in his art: he made a voluntary offer of an altar-piece to the church of St. Michael, and his offer being accepted, he painted for it a figure larger than life, of our Saviour holding a cross, whkh now occupies one side of the wall of the chancel.

On the building of the octagon chapel, he received an. application from the proprietors to paint a large altar-piece for their church, leaving the subject entirely to his own | decision. He chose the appropriate subject of the Pool of Bethesda, and found in it the long wished-for opportunity of displaying his knowledge of historical composition and character. The picture forms one of the principal ornaments of the chapel.

It should be noticed, that in an early part of his successful practice at Bath, finding a general desire prevailing for pictures in crayons, he sent an order to Rosalba, the celebrated Venetian paintress, for two heads of fancy painted in that manner, and he received from that eminent mistress of her art two of her most studied performances; the one “Apollo with his lyre,” the other “A Nymph crowned with vernal flowers.” These beautiful works became the models of the Bath painter in his first efforts in crayons, in which mode of painting he afterwards carried the practice of the art to so high a degree as to be scarcely excelled by Rosalba herself. On the formation of the Royal Academy in London, his long-established reputation secured him an election among its original members, and he was a constant exhibitor for many years.

During this long course of professional industry, he had shewn himself a no less diligent guardian of a numerous family. At an early period of its increase he maintained a regular correspondence on the subject of “parental duties” with Mr. Chandler, a brother of the dissenting minister of that name, and distinguished among his friends for the integrity of his mind and conduct. Many of these letters and replies still exist. He extended to all his children the most unwearied attention, and bestowed on them every advantage of education which Bath could supply. He expended on them all that his long life of diligence had amassed, and left them, at his death, which happened in 1792, scarcely any other possessions than the remembrance of his virtues and his useful labours.

He retained the vigour of health and the strength of his mind till a few years previous to his dissolution. There is a copy of Guide’s “Aurora,” painted by him (the figures nearly as large as life) when he was upwards of seventy years of age. The picture is finished with great firmness and precision of pencil. 1

1 From iuformation obligingly communicated by his son, Priuce Hoare, esq. foreign secretary to the Royal Academy.