Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Brooke, William Henry

BROOKE, WILLIAM HENRY (d. 1860), satirical draughtsman and portrait-painter, was a nephew of Henry Brooke (1703?-1783) [q. v.], the author of 'A Fool of Quality.' He was placed when young in a banker's office. Preferring the studio to the desk, he became the pupil of Samuel Drummond, A.R.A. He made rapid progress, and soon established himself as a portrait-painter in the Adelphi. In 1810 he first exhibited in the Academy. His early works, according to Redgrave, were mere sketches; their subjects: 'Anacreon,' 'Murder of Thomas à Becket,' and 'Musidora.' Between 1813 and 1823 he did not exhibit. In the latter year he sent three pictures, a portrait, and two Irish landscapes with figures. In 1826 he exhibited 'Chastity.' This was the last work which he sent to the Academy. In 1812 he undertook to make drawings for the 'Satirist,' a monthly publication which changed hands several times in its short career, and collapsed finally in 1814. There is little of style or of wit to redeem the pure vulgarity of Brooke's work as a satirist. He contributed to this paper till September 1813, and was then succeeded by George Cruikshank. His drawings for this periodical seem to have brought him some notice, and he illustrated a good many popular books of the day. Among these may be mentioned Moore's 'Irish Melodies,' 1822; Major's edition of Izaak Walton, to which he supplied some vignettes; Keightley's 'Greek and Roman Mythology,' 1831; 'Persian and Turkish Tales;' 'Gulliver's Travels;' Nathaniel Cotton's 'Visions in Verse;' and 'Fables for the Female Sex,' by E. Moore and his uncle, H. Brooke. The last three are undated and published by Walker. None of Brooke's embellishments appear to have had much merit. His best designs, however, are said to have been well drawn. He shows a certain feeling for grace in his delineation of women, though little knowledge. He died at Chichester 12 Jan. 1860.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists of the English School; British Museum Catalogues.]

E. R.