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(John, 1801-1870, Painter and Sculptor)
Group of large autograph leaves of reminiscences and reflections, unsigned,
in his fine hand, including a
striking and accomplished pencil drawing,
'Sir Francis Chantrey's visit to see my Model' (of 'Adam and Eve lamenting over the dead body of Abel', exhibited in 1823), together 12 sides on 10 sheets18" x 13¾", loose in a contemporary portfolio, no place, no date but watermark
Wood was the son of a drawing master in Whitechapel. He painted portraits (including Peel and Earl Grey) and his historical and literary subjects had an assurance and power of invention which brought him a great reputation at the time.
His reminiscences are under various headings, some dramatic - "A life trial or adventure", "Scene - My father's house in Whitechapel", - and some reflective, "A Tableau of the Past". They begin with his first day as an apprentice, at Rudolf Ackermann's in the Strand. Believing he would be engaged in drawing and design, he was set to copy a manuscript on to a stone for printing, and in bitter disappointment walked home, to explain all to his parents. Studying at Henry Sass's school, he was given some clay and a modelling tool, with which he made the subject of the present drawing. He tells of Chantrey's only adverse comment, whereupon he seized some string, decapitated Abel and at once made the neck somewhat shorter, while Chantrey looked on. Then at the R.A. schools, he won the gold medal for painting, and he tells in affectionate terms how Lawrence, P.R.A., interviewed him and advised him to take lodgings in the West End. Wood's father "expostulated" but did not hold him back. The last four sides tell of his intense gratitude to Providence, and his pleasure that his father lived to know of his success.
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