Ten things you may not know about Norfolk artist John Crome as the 250th anniversary of his birth is marked
PUBLISHED: 10:05 20 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:05 20 December 2018
This Saturday (December 22) will be 250 years since the birth of a Norfolk artist known for his detailed and tranquil landscape paintings of the county.
John Crome, born in 1768, was the son of a weaver and went on to become a celebrated artist of the 19th century.
Many of the facts of his life - that he founded the Norwich School of Painters, the first provincial art movement in Britain; and that he spent most of his life in Norwich and Norfolk - are already well-known.
However, here are ten things you may not know about ‘Old Crome’:
• His career began when he was twelve years old, as a painter of signs on coaches and shops.
• An introduction to Thomas Harvey, a wealthy weaver from Old Catton, proved instrumental in Crome’s development as a painter. Mr Harvey had a large collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, famous for their landscapes - an inspiration for the precocious Crome.
• The artist and his friend, another landscape painter, Robert Ladbrooke, married two Berney sisters.
• Crome and his wife once cut one of his paintings, Mousehold Heath, in two - and sold each half at the Norwich Fair. The incident was the subject of a one-act opera, Twice in a Blue Moon.
• Two of the artist’s sons, John Berney and William Henry, also grew up to be notable landscape painters.
• Crome was the warden of St George’s Church at Colegate, where his remains are interred.
• Many of Crome’s paintings were bought by the Colman family. In 1946, Russell James Colman donated hundreds of oil paintings by Norwich school painters to the city’s Castle, as well as money to build a gallery there.
• Three of his paintings have been used by Greek scientists researching the effects of volcanic eruptions on the climate.
• A bridge depicted in one of his paintings had vanished - but was rediscovered during construction of apartments along the River Wensum south of New Mills.
• Crome did not sign his paintings, and his pupils and sons trained by painting copies of his works, meaning it is now sometimes difficult to verify which are his paintings and which are replicas.
If you want to find out more about the artist, Norwich Castle Museum and Art gallery has 26 of his works on display at the moment... and his paintbox too.
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