Artist biography

English painter. He exhibited watercolours at the Society of British Artists in 1849 and 1850 and at the Royal Academy in 1851. At this period his work has a fluidity and a freedom of handling that is closer to Richard Parkes Bonington than to the prevailing style of Victorian watercolours. Around 1852 he came under the influence of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and radically altered his style.

It is not known how Inchbold met the Pre-Raphaelites, but the Rossettis knew him well, and he became a close friend of Algernon Charles Swinburne. John Everett Millais admired his work. Inchbold's pictures soon attracted the attention of John Ruskin, and in 1858 he visited Switzerland to paint alpine subjects under Ruskin's supervision. From this point onwards Inchbold's painting changed direction, possibly as a reaction against the bullying he had received from Ruskin. Visits to Venice in 1862 and the following years resulted in a series of ethereal pictures painted with the freedom of his early works and entirely lacking the highly finished technique of his Pre-Raphaelite pictures.

Inchbold never married and seems to have had a rather melancholy life. Dante Gabriel Rossetti complained that he was a bore, and Swinburne wrote, ‘He had not many friends, being very shy and rather brusque in manner, so that people were apt to think him odd.' Overshadowed by the leading figures of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood his work sank into obscurity after his death.

Obituary, The Athenaeum (4 Feb 1888)
A. Staley: The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape (Oxford, 1973)
The Pre-Raphaelites (exh. cat., ed. L. Parris; London, Tate, 1984)


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