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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

John Collier (1850-1934), Portrait painter and writer on art

Portrait painter; born 27 January 1850, in London, son of lawyer Lord Monkswell. Studied at the Slade and in Munich and Paris; exhibited at Royal Academy from 1874 and made his name as a proficient and prolific portraitist – nine works by Collier are in the National Portrait Gallery collection together with a copy of his Sitter Book – but also produced historical scenes (e.g., Lady Godiva, c.1897; Herbert AGM, Coventry) and ‘problem pictures’; in painting he favoured ‘absolute truth to nature’ above artistic flair,[1] an approach emphasized in his writings such as The Art of Portrait Painting (1905); first married to Marion Huxley (see NPG 6032) and then to her youngest sister Ethel, in defiance of civil law; an avowed rationalist in regard to belief; died 11 April 1934, in London.

Described in his obituary as ‘a thin, bearded man [who] gave the impression of polite independence – a sort of quiet ruthlessness – in personal intercourse’,[2] he was by a later commentator called ‘small, fair, bespectacled [and] stuttering’.[3]

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

[1] W.H. Pollock, AJ 1894, p.66; Springhall 2004.
[2] The Times, 12 Apr. 1934.
[3] Desmond 1994–7, vol.2, p.120.

Referencesback to top

Chiarini 1979
Chiarini, M., Gli Uffizi: Catalogo generale, Florence, 1979.

Desmond 1994–7
Desmond, A., Huxley, vol.1. The Devil’s Disciple, vol.2. Evolution’s High Priest, London, 1994–7.

Henrey 1937
Henrey, Mrs R., A Century Between, London, 1937.

Springall 2004
Springall, J., ‘Collier, John (1850–1934)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004; online ed., May 2006.