Thomas Bush Hardy (1842-1897)
A particularly fine example of Hardy's work. The Semaphore Tower in Portsmouth Dockyard is just to the left of HMS Victory with a Euphrates-class troopship moored alongside. The historic Round Tower is shown to the far right, and to the left some old hulks floating in the harbour. A small part of Gosport is visible in the lower-right corner known as 'Stoney Steps'.
Watercolour, signed and dated 1894
Framed & glazed with conservation materials
Overall size including frame: 55 x 74.2 cm
Thomas Bush Hardy is regarded as one of the most important marine watercolourists of the late 19th century.
He was born in Sheffield and was briefly apprenticed to his optician father before, in 1861, travelling to America to fight for the Union. Having returned home he married Mary Ann and by around 1870 Hardy had moved to London and began to support his growing family by painting.
Entirely self-taught, he quickly developed a fine reputation and exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy and Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.
Hardy lived life to the full and was something of a bon viveur. He had nine children with two wives, was an enthusiastic member of the bohemian Savage Club and the Langham Sketching Club, possessed a renowned collection of antique armour (bits of which he would occasionally wear wile entertaining guests), could play anything on the piano having heard it just once, and travelled on numerous painting tours to France, Italy, Germany, Scotland and the low countries.
His early death dismayed many of his contemporaries. His obituary in The Times records that he treated his marine subjects with 'unusual freshness and force' and that his work has 'unmistakeable vigour and no little beauty'.
With thanks to the excellent biographical reference work 'Thomas Bush Hardy 1842-1897' by David H. Kirby-Welch and John Morton Lee.