Artist biography

PETER TILLEMANS c.1684–1734

Painter and draughtsman chiefly of topographical landscapes, Thames-side views and sporting scenes; also recorded are some decorative and scenery paintings, battle-pieces and a few portraits. Born c. 1684 at Antwerp, the son of a diamond-cutter, and trained there as a copyist; in 1708 was brought to England by ‘Turner, a picture dealer’ for whom he copied battle scenes and painted small genre pictures.

By 1711 had joined Kneller's newly founded Academy of painting; later joined the Society of St Luke (and was its Steward, 1725). Lived chiefly in Westminster, but travelled to execute commissions; by 1715 had acquired his most faithful patron, Dr Cox Macro, of Little Haugh, Suffolk. In 1719, commissioned by the antiquary John Bridges to make about 500 drawings for a projected history of Northamptonshire; ‘from this to drawing views of gentlemen's and noblemen's seats was a natural step, and from topographical panoramas to enlivening them with strings of horses was another’ (Waterhouse 1953, p.216).

Raines notes that the bulk of Tilleman's work was done after about 1720, painting various country houses and the views from them; also painted Thames-side views at Greenwich, Chelsea, Richmond and Twickenham. Several paintings of racing at Newmarket and some hunting pictures are known; four of them (three views of Newmarket racecourse and ‘The Fox Chase’), engraved by Claude du Bosc and published in 1723, are among the most spectacular early sporting prints in England. Died at Dr Cox Macro's house in Suffolk, 19 November 1734.

LITERATURE Robert Raines, ‘Peter Tillemans, Life and Work, with a List of Representative Paintings’, Walpole Society, XLVII, 1980, pp.21–59


Published in:
Elizabeth Einberg and Judy Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709, Tate Gallery Collections, II, London 1988