Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Johns, Ambrose Bowden

JOHNS, AMBROSE BOWDEN (1776–1858), painter, born at Plymouth in 1776, was apprenticed to a printer and publisher, who was father of Benjamin R. Haydon [q. v.], but soon devoted himself to landscape-painting. He built himself a cottage near Plymouth, and was much encouraged by Northcote, Haydon, and other friends. He was acquainted with J. M. W. Turner, R.A., who used to sketch with him and stay at his cottage. Johns painted somewhat in the style of Turner. A picture by Johns in the collection of Mr. S. C. Hall was engraved by J. Cousen in one of the annuals, when it was ascribed to Turner. The mistake produced a coolness between the two artists. The same picture was subsequently put up for sale at Christie's as an example of Turner, and on two other occasions Johns's work passed as that of Turner. His paintings are little known out of Devonshire, where there were good examples in the collections of the Earl of Morley at Saltram, and Dr. Yonge at Plymouth. A work of rather different character from his usual paintings, ‘A Boy Blowing Bubbles,’ is in the collection of Sir Massey Lopes at Maristow, Devonshire. A fine example, ‘Okehampton Castle,’ is in the collection of the Earl of Darnley at Cobham Hall, Kent. Through an overuse of asphaltum many of his pictures have blackened with age. Johns occasionally exhibited at the Royal Academy. He died at Plymouth on 10 Dec. 1858.

[Ottley's Dict. of Recent and Living Painters; Pycroft's Art in Devonshire.]

L. C.