William Henry Brooke, Portrait Painter and Draughtsman

(b. 1772, d. 1860)

Portrait Painter and Draughtsman

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Son of Henry Brooke (q.v.) and grandson of Robert Brooke (q.v.) ; was born in 1772. He began life in a banker's office, but desiring to become an artist he placed himself as a pupil with Henry Drummond, A.R.A. He made rapid progress and established himself as a portrait painter in Duke Street, Adelphi. He first appeared at the Royal Academy in 1810, and continued to exhibit at intervals until 1826.

Among his exhibited works were "Annette, a portrait," 1812; "Murder of Thomas a' Beckett," a sketch for a large picture, 1811; "Tourists in the South of Ireland ascending the Galtee Mountains," 1823; and "Chastity," 1826. To the British Institution he contributed "The Battle of Waterloo," a sketch, 1826; "The Nubian Slave at the feet of Edith Plantagenet," 1827; a "Study of a Waterman on Porchester Lake," 1828; and a "Portrait of Robert Owen," 1834, now in the National Portrait Gallery, engraved in stipple by H. T. Ryall in 1835. He exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1827, 1828, 1829, 1842 and 1846, and was elected an Associate in 1828. In 1812 Brooke undertook to make drawings for "The Satirist," a London monthly publication, and he contributed to it until September 1813. His drawings, though witless and vulgar, brought him into notice and led to his obtaining considerable employment as an illustrator of books. He did the vignettes for the edition of Moore's "Irish Melodies" published in 1822, for Major's edition of "Isaac Walton," and the illustrations for Keightley's "Greek and Roman Mythology," 1831.

Among other works illustrated by him are "Persian and Turkish Tales," "Gulliver's Travels," Nathaniel Cotton's "Vision in Verse," T. Crofton Croker's "Annual," "The Christmas Box," 1828-9, "Legends of Killarney," William Carleton's "Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry," published in Dublin in 1834 and 1835. In most of these the illustrations were designed as well as etched, or engraved on wood, by Brooke himself. He contributed four plates to Ryland's "History of Waterford," 1824, viz: "The City of Waterford," etched by him from a drawing by Edward Hayes, and "Lismore Castle," "Round Tower, Ardmore," and "Reginald's Tower, Waterford," all three drawn and etched by himself. Among plates engraved by others after his drawings are a "Portrait of James Silk Buckingham," a coloured aquatint by R. Havell, which forms the frontispiece to Buckingham's "Travels in Assyria," 1829; "Angelica Catalani," stipple by S. Hall, "Catherine Stephens, afterwards Countess of Essex," also by Hall, and "The Tourist in Ireland," lithographed by M. Gauci in 1828.

Most of Brooke's illustrations, though not of great merit, are well drawn and possessed of a certain grace and character which is pleasing. He was a personal friend of Stothard, who considered that, as an artist, he possessed great genius, vivid imagination, and strong feeling, and lamented that, with such uncommon powers, Brooke did not devote himself more entirely to the study of the higher branch of the art for which nature had designed him (see "Life of Stothard" by Mrs. Bray.) Brooke died at Chichester, after a long illness, on 12th January, 1860, aged 88.

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