Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Hodgson, John Evan

HODGSON, JOHN EVAN (1831–1895), painter, the elder son of John Hodgson, a member of an influential Newcastle family and a Russia merchant, was born in London on 1 March 1831. At the age of four he was taken to St. Petersburg, but was sent to England eight years later for his education. He entered Rugby school in February 1846, and on leaving school returned to St. Petersburg and entered his father's counting-house. The study of the old masters in the Hermitage collection and of Ruskin's 'Modern Painters' induced him to abandon commerce for an artist's career. In 1853 he came to London and entered as a student at the Royal Academy. He exhibited his first picture, 'The Notice of Ejectment,' in 1856. This was followed by other scenes of domestic life, such as 'The Arrest' (1857), 'Elector and Candidate' (1858), and 'The German Patriot's Wife' (1859). A little later he took to historical subjects, and exhibited 'Sir Thomas More and his Daughters in Holbein's Studio' (1861), 'The Return of Drake from Cadiz, 1587' (1862), 'The First Sight of the Armada' (1863), 'Queen Elizabeth at Purfleet' (1864), 'Taking Home the Bride, 1612' (1865), 'A Jew's Daughter accused of Witchcraft in the Middle Ages' (1866), 'Evensong' (1867), 'Off the Downs in the Days of the Cæsars,' and two domestic subjects (1868). Since 1859 Hodgson had been living at 5 Hill Road, Abbey Road, and he became a member of the group known a little later as 'the St. John's Wood set,' of which Philip Calderon [q. v. Suppl.] was the leader. A journey to the north of Africa in 1868 led to a change of subjects, and the first of his oriental pictures, 'An Arab Story-teller,' was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1869. This was followed by a long series of pictures of life in Morocco, Algeria, and Tunis, such as 'An Arab Patriarch' (1871), 'The Snake Charmer' (1872), 'A Tunisian Bird-seller' (1873), 'The Temple of Diana at Zaghouan' (1876), 'An Eastern Question' and 'The Pasha' (1878), 'Gehazi' and 'The French Naturalist in Algiers' (1879). Hodgson was elected an associate of the Royal Academy on 28 Jan. 1873, and an academician on 18 Dec. 1879. About this time he painted marine subjects, such as 'Homeward Bound' (1880), 'Bound for the Black Sea' and 'A Shipwrecked Sailor waiting for a Sail,' his diploma work, exhibited in 1881. He was more versatile in his later years, when he exhibited, among other works, 'Painter and Critic,' 'Hobbema's Country,' and 'In the Low Countries' (1882), 'Robert Burns at the Plough' (1887), and landscapes such as 'Rural England' and 'Coleshill Common.' He exhibited, in all, ninety pictures at the Royal Academy and about half that number at other galleries.

Hodgson, who was a good scholar and linguist, was appointed librarian to the Royal Academy in 1882 in succession to Solomon Alexander Hart [q. v.], and professor of painting later in the same year in succession to Edward Armitage [q. v. Suppl.] He discharged the duties of both offices with zeal and efficiency during the remainder of his life, and was also of much service in organising the winter exhibitions of old masters. He contributed, jointly with Mr. Frederick Eaton, a series of articles on the history of the Academy in the eighteenth century to the 'Art Journal' in 1889. He also published 'Academy Lectures' in 1884, and 'Fifty Years of British Art' on the occasion of the Manchester exhibition in 1887. He was a contributor to the 'Architect' and other periodicals and journals.

Hodgson died on 19 June 1895 at The Larches, Coleshill, near Amersham, Buckinghamshire, where he had resided for about ten years.

[Men of the Time; Times, 22 June 1895; Athenæum, 29 June 1885; Illustrated London News, 29 June 1895; Newcastle Chronicle, 24 June 1895 ; Black and White, 29 June 1895 (portrait).]

C. D.