Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/De Wint, Peter

DE WINT, PETER (1784–1849), landscape-painter, was born at Stone in Staffordshire on 21 Jan. 1784. His father was a physician descended from a Dutch family which had settled in America. He was the fourth son, and was intended for his father's profession, but, preferring art, he was apprenticed in 1802 to John Raphael Smith [q. v.], to learn engraving and portrait-painting. In 1806 his indentures were cancelled, and after this he spent much time with Dr. Monro of the Adelphi, the well-known patron of young artists, who much admired his sketches. It was not till 1809 that he entered the schools of the Royal Academy. In 1810 he joined the (now Royal) Society of Painters in Water-Colours, of which he became a full member in 1812. For nearly forty years he was a contributor to the exhibitions of this society, where most of his works appeared, but between 1807 and 1828 he also exhibited at the Royal Academy and the British Institution. In 1810 he married Harriet, the sister of William Hilton, R.A. [q. v.], who was a fellow-pupil of his under John Raphael Smith. The two friends lived together from 1802 to 1827, when Hilton was made keeper of the Royal Academy. Till De Wint married they lived in Broad Street, Golden Square, and afterwards in Percy Street. In 1827 De Wint moved to 40 Upper Gower Street, where he remained till his death. There is little to record of a life so devoted to art. He was never so happy as when painting directly from nature in the open air, and he was very popular as a teacher. He made many friends among the nobility and gentry, at whose country seats he was a frequent visitor. Among these were the Earl of Lonsdale, the Earl of Powis, the Marquis of Ailesbury, Mr. Fawkes of Farnley Hall, Yorkshire, and Mr. Ellison of Sudbrooke Holme, Lincolnshire. He died of disease of the heart at 40 Upper Gower Street, London, 30 Jan. 1849, and was buried in the ground of the Royal Chapel in the Savoy.

De Wint was not only one of the finest water-colour painters of the English school, but an admirable painter in oils. His art was distinctly national, his subjects chosen mainly in the eastern and northern counties of England, and especially at or near Lincoln, where his wife's parents lived. In 1828 he took a short tour in Normandy, his only visit to the continent, and in 1829 he went to Wales for the first time. In 1843 he visited Hampshire and the New Forest, and his last excursion was to Devonshire in 1848. His works are distinguished by their powerful, deep, and blooming, but somewhat grave colouring, by strength and simplicity of light and shade, and fidelity to ordinary aspects of nature.

The national collections are richer in the works of De Wint than of any other of the greater English landscape-painters except Turner. To the South Kensington Museum Mrs. Tatlock, the daughter of the painter, presented four oil paintings, including two of his largest and finest works, ‘A Corn Field’ and ‘Woody Landscape with water and a horseman attended by dogs.’ The same lady also presented two out of the twenty-eight water-colours by De Wint in the same collection. To the National Gallery the late Mr. Henderson bequeathed twenty-three drawings in 1880, including some of De Wint's finest works, such as ‘Lincoln Cathedral,’ ‘Bray-on-the-Thames,’ ‘Ruins of Lincoln Castle,’ and ‘Harvest Time, Lancashire.’

After his death his works were sold at Christie's and realised 2,364l. 7s. 6d. for 493 lots, the largest price brought by any one drawing being 31l. 10s.

[Redgrave's Dict.; Wedmore's Studies in English Art.]

C. M.