The Info List - John Callcott Horsley

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JOHN CALLCOTT HORSLEY RA (29 January 1817 – 18 October 1903), was an English Academic painter of genre and historical scenes, illustrator, and designer of the first Christmas card
Christmas card
. He was a member of the artist's colony in Cranbrook .


* 1 Childhood and education * 2 Family life * 3 Career * 4 See also * 5 Notes * 6 References * 7 Further reading * 8 External links


Horsley was born in London
, the son of William Horsley
William Horsley
, the musician, and grand-nephew of Sir Augustus Callcott . His sister Mary Elizabeth Horsley wed the famous British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1836. Horsley was mentored by William Mulready
William Mulready
and Augustus Wall Callcot who sent him at age thirteen to study at Dr Henry Sass\'s academy where he met D.G Rossetti , J. Millais and W.P. Frith ; in his biography Horsley recalls Dr Sass as being vain and untalented. Following preparatory school Horsley studied painting at the Royal Academy schools where he met Thomas Webster . In 1836 he exhibited The Pride of the Village (Vernon Gallery) at the Royal Academy
Royal Academy


Horsley married Elvira Walter in 1846 with whom he had three sons: Edward (1848), Frank (1849), and Harry (1850). Elvira died of consumption in 1852 followed by the deaths of Edward and Harry in 1854 and Frank in 1857 due to scarlet fever.

Horsley remarried to Rosamund Haden who came from a family of distinguished surgeons—her father Charles Haden had a practice in Sloan Street and her brother Francis Seymour Haden
Francis Seymour Haden
was a surgeon and etcher who founded the Royal Society of Painters, Etchers and Engravers in 1880. Rosamund gave birth to Walter (1855), Hugh (1856), Victor (1857), Emma (1858), Fanny (1859), Gerald (1862) and Rosamund (1864). Gerald grew up to be an architect, Walter an artist also studying at the RA Schools , and Victor a surgeon. Sir Victor Horsley (born 1857), became famous as a surgeon and neuropathologist, and a prominent supporter of the cause of experimental research. Horsley and Rosamund had four more children: Emma (1858), Fanny (1859), Gerald (1862) and Rosamund (1864), losing Hugh and Emma to scarlet fever.

After his wedding to Rosamund in 1854 Horsley and his new wife toured the Midlands for five months to establish contacts with wealthy industrialists for portrait commissions. Horsley moved into 'Willesley', his house in Cranbrook in 1861, joining the Cranbrook Colony ; whilst maintaining a home in London. The architect Richard Shaw adds "...tall chimneys and cosy 'inglenooks.'" in the Jacobean style to 'Willesley'.


Horsley's paintings were largely of historical subjects set in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, influenced by the Dutch masters Pieter de Hooch
Pieter de Hooch
and Vermeer . Examples are "Malvolio", "L'Allegro and il Penseroso" (painted for the Prince Consort ), "Le Jour des Morts" and "A Scene from Don Quixote".

As a young artist Horsley was patronised by the collector John Sheepshanks , who bought two of Horsley's paintings: '\'The Rival Performers (1839), and '\'Youth and Age (1839); both of which are now part of the V"> The world's first Christmas card
Christmas card

Horsley designed the first ever Christmas card
Christmas card
, commissioned by Henry Cole
Henry Cole
. It caused some controversy because it depicted a small child drinking wine. He also designed the Horsley envelope , a pre-paid envelope that was the precursor to the postage stamp.

In 1856 Horsley was photographed at "The Photographed Institute" by Robert Howlett , as part of a series of portraits of "fine artists". The picture was among a group exhibited at the Art Treasures Exhibition in Manchester
in 1857.

Horsley was a member of the London-based Etching Club contributing illustrations to editions of " The Deserted Village " (Oliver Goldsmith and "Songs of Shakespeare". He also illustrated a number of other books including "Little Princes" by Eliza Slater (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1890).


* Greeting card
Greeting card


This article includes a list of references , but ITS SOURCES REMAIN UNCLEAR because it has INSUFFICIENT INLINE CITATIONS . Please help to improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (January 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message )

* ^ A B C D E F The Cranbrook Colony: Fresh Perspectives, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, 2010 * ^ The complex history surrounding the decoration is best summarized by T. S. R. Boase , The Decorations of the New Palace of Westminster 1841-1863, in: Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 17:1954, pp. 319–358. * ^ John Callcott Horsley, R.A., Royal Academy
Royal Academy
of Arts Collections * ^ See Lucinda Hawksley (2013) The Mystery of Princess Louise: Queen Victoria's Rebellious Daughter * ^ Smith, Alison (1996). The Victorian Nude. Manchester
University Press. p. 227. * ^ "Robert Howlett". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi :10.1093/ref:odnb/101058919 . (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)


* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Horsley, John Callcott". Encyclopædia Britannica . 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 739.


* Horsley, J. C. Recollections of a Royal Academician (London: J. Murray,