Bright, Henry (1814-1873) (DNB00)

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BRIGHT, HENRY (1814–1873), watercolour painter, was born at Saxmundham, Suffolk, in 1814. His talent for drawing was early exhibited, but little encouraged. He was apprenticed by his father to a chemist and druggist at Woodbridge. After serving his time he went to Norwich, and became dispenser to the Norwich Hospital. Whilst yet at Woodbridge he seems to have given to drawing whatever time he could get. The removal to Norwich, throwing him as it did into the company of the then famous artists of that city, was fortunate, as well for the world as for him. The influence of such painters as John Crome, Cotman, the elder Ladbrook, Stark, and Vincent was soon sufficient to make him abandon his bottles for the brush. He gave up his place at the hospital, and came to London to study. Here his talents introduced him to Prout, David Cox, J. D. Harding, and other well-known London painters, and he soon became a member of the Institute of Painters in Water Colours, and later of the Graphic Society. To the exhibitions of the former society he contributed in 1841 and 1844. He then seceded from it, and 'from that time till 1850 was an exhibitor of landscapes in oil to the Royal Academy exhibitions.' He spent more than twenty years in London, and then, his health failing, he retired to Ipswich, where he died on 21 Sept. 1873. During the time of his residence in London he spent a part of each year in travelling, when he painted scenery on the Rhine, the coasts of France and Holland, the Isle of Arran, and the Yorkshire Moors. On one of the continental trips he met J. W. M. Turner, and formed an acquaintance with him which ripened into friendship. The first painting in oil which he exhibited was hung at the Academy in 1845. It was bought by Clarkson Stanfield, R. A. The result of this purchase was an enduring friendship between the two painters. Prout and Harding were admirers of Bright's pictures and sketches. The queen and the prince consort were among his earliest patrons. In 1844 a water-colour painting called 'Entrance to an old Prussian Lawn - Winter - Evening effect' was bought by her majesty, who now possesses several others of Bright's works. As a teacher of his art Bright was for some years very popular, and derived nearly 2,000l. a year from this branch of his profession. Bright's pictures are varied in subject, and usually masterly in manipulation. His colouring is rich and deep. The largest and finest of his pictures (Suffolk Chronicle, 27 Sept. 1873), amongst which is 'Orford Castle,' are in the possession of Mr. Charles T. Maud of Bath.

[Art Journal, October 1873; Suffolk Chronicle, 27 Sept. 1873; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of the English School; Athenæum, 27 Sept. 1873.]

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