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Stone, Frank (DNB00)

STONE, FRANK (1800–1859), painter, born at Manchester on 22 Aug. 1800, was the son of a cotton-spinner. He was brought up in his father's calling, and did not turn his attention to art until the age of twenty-four. He is said ‘never to have studied under any master or even to have received a drawing lesson at school.’ After seven years' application he came to London in 1831. His earliest work consisted in making pencil drawings for Charles Heath (1785–1848) [q. v.], at five guineas each, to be engraved by him in the ‘Book of Beauty.’ On 11 Feb. 1833 he was elected an associate exhibitor of the Watercolour Society, and in 1837 was represented for the first time at the Royal Academy exhibition by a couple of portraits in oil. His early works were extensively engraved. They were distinguished by ‘a pretty sentimentality’ which made them popular. Among them may be mentioned ‘The Last Appeal,’ ‘Cross Purposes,’ ‘The Old, Old Story,’ and the companion pictures ‘Impending Mate’ and ‘Mated.’ In 1841 he was awarded a premium of fifty guineas by the British Institution, and on 13 June 1842 was elected a member of the Water-colour Society, but resigned his membership on 17 July 1846.

Among London writers and artists Stone had many acquaintances. He was the associate of Thackeray, and of the poets Campbell and Rogers, and the intimate friend of Dickens. From 1845 to 1851 he resided at Tavistock House, Tavistock Square (afterwards the dwelling of Dickens). He frequently assisted Dickens in theatricals, and in 1847 he accompanied the novelist in a troupe of amateur players on a tour in the north. Dickens made Sairey Gamp describe Stone as ‘a fine-looking, portly gentleman, with a face like an amiable full moon’ (Forster, Life of Dickens, ii. 353). In November 1848 he assisted in illustrating the ‘Haunted Man.’ In the same year he exhibited at the Royal Academy ‘Christ and the Sisters of Bethany,’ and two years later a ‘Scene from the Tempest,’ the first of several Shakespearean subjects. In 1851 he was chosen an associate of the Royal Academy. During the last five or six years of his life his work acquired more breadth and simplicity and showed less trace of drawing-room sentiment. Among his later productions may be mentioned ‘The Gardener's Daughter’ and several sea studies. Stone died in London on 18 Nov. 1859, and was buried in Highgate cemetery. He was father of the well-known artist, Mr. Marcus Stone, R.A.

Stone seldom attempted large or complicated compositions, preferring groups of two or three figures which he could paint with careful attention to matters of technique. The characteristics of his art have been described as ‘a combination of technical elaboration with a definite predilection for beauty of physical type.’ With such tendencies he was necessarily popular, but his most successful work was perhaps not his best.

[Athenæum, 1859, ii. 707; Redgrave's Dict. of English Artists; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Armstrong and Graves; Ward's Men of the Reign; Roget's Hist. of the ‘Old Water-colour’ Soc. ii. 217–23; Letters of Dickens, 1882, passim; Mrs. Ritchie's Chapters from some Memoirs, 1894, p. 91.]

E. I. C.