Hone, Nathaniel (DNB00)
HONE, NATHANIEL (1718–1784), painter, born 24 April 1718 in Dublin, was son of Nathaniel Hone, a merchant of Wood Quay, and treasurer of the congregation of the presbyterian chapel in Eustace Street. Hone at an early age, and without any instruction, began to practise as a portrait-painter. He came over to England while still young, and went to Italy to study. He was at Rome in 1750 and 1751, and at Florence in 1752, as we learn from the notebooks of Sir Joshua Reynolds, in one of which there is a small caricature portrait of Hone. On returning home Hone practised as an itinerant portrait-painter about England, and, while engaged in his profession at York, married a lady of some property. Shortly afterwards he settled in St. James's Place, London, and soon established a reputation as a portrait-painter in oil and in miniature, more especially in enamel. In this line of painting Hone was without a rival at the time, and his works were justly appreciated. He was a member of the Society of Artists, and sent to their first exhibition in 1760 a picture of ‘The Brick Dust Man’ (engraved in mezzotint by James Watson). After the division of the artists, Hone adhered to the society exhibiting at Spring Gardens, and in 1766 was one of the artists who signed the roll-declaration for incorporation. He was also one of the first directors of the new Society of Incorporated Artists. To their exhibitions during the succeeding years he contributed various portraits, miniatures, and enamels, including ‘Signora Zamperini as Cecchina’ (engraved in mezzotint by J. Finlayson), ‘Diogenes in Search of an Honest Man,’ and the ‘Rev. George Whitefield,’ a well-known portrait frequently engraved. On the fresh division occurring among the artists, Hone was one of the seceders and a foundation member of the Royal Academy. In 1769 he exhibited several portraits in different styles at the exhibition of the Academy, including a portrait of his son Camillus as ‘A Piping Boy’ (engraved in mezzotint by Captain Baillie). In 1770 Hone sent for exhibition a picture of Captain Grose and Theophilus Forrest masquerading as two friars, but the treatment was considered too irreverent, and had to be altered before the picture was allowed to be exhibited. Hone engraved the picture in mezzotint in its original state. In 1771 he exhibited a portrait of his son Camillus as ‘David when a Shepherd,’ and in 1775 another portrait of his son as ‘The Spartan Boy’ (engraved in mezzotint by W. Humphreys [q. v.]). In the latter year Hone sent a picture called ‘The Conjuror’ to the Academy, which was an obvious attack on Sir Joshua Reynolds, with whom Hone unsuccessfully endeavoured to compete for public favour. It was further discovered that the picture contained a figure which might be supposed to be an indecent caricature of Angelica Kauffmann. On this ground the picture was removed from the walls of the exhibition. Hone indignantly, though apparently unavailingly, repudiated any idea of insult to the lady artist, and painted out the objectionable figures. To re-establish his character he opened in St. Martin's Lane an exhibition of sixty-six of his own pictures, including ‘The Conjuror,’ with a catalogue, gratis, containing his apology and defence. Hone continued to exhibit at the Royal Academy till his death, which took place at 44 Rathbone Place on 14 Aug. 1784. He was buried at Hendon, where five of his children had previously been interred. By his wife, Mary Earl, of York, whom he married on 9 Oct. 1742, he left two sons, Horace and John Camillus (noticed below), and two daughters, Mrs. Metcalfe and Mrs. Rigg.
Hone's portraits, though not wholly excellent in colour or execution, have some merit. One of the best was his own portrait, perhaps the one now in the National Portrait Gallery. Another portrait is in the collection of the Royal Academy, and one was engraved in mezzotint by himself. He also painted his own portrait in enamel at the age of thirty-one. Among other noteworthy portraits were those of Sir John Fielding (engraved in mezzotint by J. M'Ardell), Mrs. Pilkington (engraved in mezzotint by R. Purcell), and John Wesley. Hone had a large collection of prints and other works of art, which was dispersed by auction in February 1785. He also etched a few plates. Some extracts from his diary for 1752 and 1753 are given in ‘The Antiquary,’ June 1884. A pencil drawing on vellum by Hone of a lady's portrait, and two small sketches of his own portrait, are in the print-room at the British Museum.
Hone, Horace (1756–1825), miniature-painter, son of Nathaniel Hone, learnt miniature-painting in water-colour and in enamel from his father. He exhibited miniatures at the Royal Academy from 1772 till 1782, when he removed from his father's house to Dublin. In 1795 he was appointed miniature-painter to the Prince of Wales, and in 1799 was elected an associate of the Royal Academy. Hone resided in Dorset Street, Dublin, and it was at his house that Captain F. Grose [q. v.] died on 12 May 1791. On the passing of the Act of Union in 1800, Hone found that most of his fashionable sitters removed to London. He therefore returned thither, and settled in Dover Street, where he continued to have a large practice. He died on 24 May 1825, in his seventy-sixth year, and was buried in St. George's burial-ground, Oxford (now Bayswater) Road. He left one daughter, who died unmarried. His miniatures are justly esteemed, and many of them have been engraved.
Hone, John Camillus (d. 1837), another son of Nathaniel Hone, was also brought up by his father as a miniature-painter, and exhibited miniatures at the Free Society of Artists and the Royal Academy from 1775 to 1780. About the latter year he went to the East Indies, and practised there for some years. On his return he obtained a situation in the stamp office at Dublin, and resided in that city until his death, at a very advanced age, in 1837. He married his first cousin, a daughter of his father's brother.
[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; J. T. Smith's Nollekens and his Times; Leslie and Taylor's Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds; Graves's Dict. of Artists 1760–1880; Edwards's Anecdotes of Painters; Antiquary, ix. 244, x. 153, 231; Chaloner Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits; Royal Academy Catalogues; information from N. Hone, esq., R.H.A.]