Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fielding, Antony Vandyke Copley

FIELDING, ANTONY VANDYKE COPLEY (1787–1855), water-colour painter, was the second and most distinguished son of Nathan Theodore Fielding [q. v.] He was born in 1787, and probably received his first instruction in art from his father, but he studied under John Varley, and was one of the young artists who used to meet at Dr. Monro's in the Adelphi. In 1810 he commenced to exhibit at the (now Royal) Society of Painters in Water-colours, and the year afterwards at the Royal Academy. To the exhibitions of the latter he sent only seventeen pictures in all, and though he sent as many as a hundred during his life to the British Institution, it was to the Water-colour Society that he devoted himself. He became a full member of this society in 1813, treasurer in 1817, secretary in 1818, and president from 1831 to his death. He was a constant and very large contributor to its exhibitions. In 1819 he sent seventy-one drawings (in forty-six frames), and in 1820 fifty-three drawings (in forty-three frames), and for many years his contributions averaged between forty and fifty. A good many of these are said to have been drawings executed as lessons for his pupils. He was one of the most fashionable drawing-masters of his day. In 1824 he, as well as Constable and Bonington, was awarded a medal at the Paris Salon. He married a Miss Gisborne, the daughter of Zachariah Gisborne, and sister of Mrs. John Varley. After a life entirely devoted to his profession, he died at Worthing on 3 March 1855, and was buried at Hove. For some years before his death he had spent much of his time at Worthing and Brighton, and it was in painting the Sussex Downs that he achieved perhaps his greatest success as a painter; but he was celebrated also for his storm scenes at sea, and for his drawings of lake and mountain scenery in Scotland, Wales, and the north of England. He also painted a few Italian scenes, but these were from the sketches of others. He never went abroad. He occasionally painted in oil, and one of his oil paintings is in the South Kensington Museum, together with eighteen of his water-colour drawings. He was distinguished by the courtesy of his manners, and his industry and popularity enabled him to amass a considerable fortune.

Fielding was an elegant and original artist, specially skilled in obtaining subtle gradations of tone, and in rendering delicate effects of light and mist. Notwithstanding that a great deal of his work, especially in his later years, was slight and mannered, he holds a distinguished place in the history of the water-colour school.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Redgraves' Century of Painters; Graves's Dict. of Artists; English Cyclopædia; Chesneau's English School of Painting; Vokins's Loan Collection Cat. 1886.]

C. M.