Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Keyse, Thomas

KEYSE, THOMAS (1722–1800), still-life-painter, and proprietor of the Bermondsey Spa, born in 1722, and a self-taught artist, was a member of the Free Society of Artists, and exhibited with them from 1761 to 1764. He painted skilful imitations of still life, flowers or fruit. From 1765 to 1768 he was an occasional exhibitor at the Society of Artists, and twice sent pictures to the Royal Academy. In 1768 he obtained a premium from the Society of Arts for a new method of setting crayon drawings. About 1770 Keyse opened a tea-garden in Bermondsey, where a chalybeate spring had been found, which was known as the Bermondsey Spa. Here, among other attractions, Keyse kept a permanent exhibition of his own drawings. Obtaining a music license, he made the gardens a kind of Vauxhall, open in the evening during the summer months, and provided fireworks, including a set-piece of the siege of Gibraltar, constructed and designed by Keyse himself. Keyse died at his gardens 8 Feb. 1800, in his seventy-ninth year. The gardens remained open for about five years longer, and their memory is preserved by the Spa Road, Bermondsey. A portrait of Keyse, painted by S. Drummond, A.R.A., was engraved.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Gent. Mag. 1800, pt. i. 284; Lysons's Environs of London, i. 558; Catalogues of the Free Society of Artists, &c.; Wheatley and Cunningham's London Past and Present.]

L. C.