Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bacon, Nathaniel (fl.1640)

BACON, Sir NATHANIEL (fl. 1640), painter, was the seventh son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, the first baronet created by James I; who, again, was eldest son of Sir Nicholas, the lord keeper. Walpole confounds the painter with his uncle. Sir Nathaniel of Stiffkey [see Bacon, Sir Nicholas, ad fin.], half-brother of Sir Francis, afterwards lord chancellor, who was sheriff of Norfolk in 1599, and knighted in 1604. The nephew entered Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, in 1621, and graduated M.A. in 1628. He lived at Culford, in Suffolk, on an estate given to him by his father. There is a monument to him in the church there, and one to his wife, Jane Meautys, the widow of Sir William Cornwallis. He is there described as 'well skilled in the history of plants, and in delineating them with his pencil.' Walpole speaks of him as having 'really attained the perfection of a master.' He studied painting in Italy, but his style was rather Flemish than Italian. In Walpole's time there were works of his to be seen at Culford, where he lived, and at Gorhambury. At the latter place is a 'Cookmaid with dead fowls,' painted 'with great nature,' and a much-admired portrait of himself. The latter is engraved in the 'Anecdotes' of Walpole. He painted a 'Ceres' and a 'Hercules,' and left some paintings at Redgrave Hall, Suffolk, his father's seat. In a note to Walpole is a recipe for the preparation of a particular 'browne-pinke' colour used by the said Nathaniel, which was 'so very good' that a certain painter, 'P. Oliver, did highly commend it, and used none other to his dyinge day, wherewith, and with Indian lake, he made sure expressions of those deep and glowing shadows in those histories he copied after Titian, that no painting should appear more warm and fleshy than those of his hand'! He was created a knight of the Bath at the coronation of Charles I, and was living in 1648 (Wills at Bury St. Edmunds, ed. S. Tymms, Camden Soc. p. 216). He had three children, of whom Nicholas and Jane died unmarried, and Anne, his heiress, married, firstly, her cousin. Sir Thomas Meautys, and secondly. Sir Harbottle Grimston. From this second marriage are descended the earls of Verulam, the owners of the famous Gorhambury estate.

[Walpole' s Anecdotes, i. 190; Peacham on Limning, p. 126; Chalmers's Biog. Dict.; Kippis's Biog. Brit.; Redgrave's Dict. of English Painters; Nagler's Künstler-Lexicon,ed. 1878; R. Masters's Corpus Christi Coll. ed. Lamb, p. 456; Norfolk Archæology, viii. 152; Camden's Britannia, ed. Gough, ii. 82; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. x. 232.]

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