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Later Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Henry Tanworth Wells (1828-1903), Miniature and portrait painter

Miniature and portrait painter; born 12 December 1828 in Marylebone, Middlesex. Apprenticed as lithographic draughtsman to Messrs Dickinson 1843; at this time also began painting miniatures; spent six months in Paris studio of Thomas Couture 1850; was friendly with though not influenced by Pre-Raphaelites; married in Rome, 9 December 1857 Joanna Mary Boyce,[1] a painter often more admired by colleagues;[2] from 1861 turned successfully to full-scale oil portraiture, specializing in male presentation portraits; elected ARA 1866, RA 1870, and appointed limner to Grillion’s Club, making about fifty crayon portraits of its members, widely reproduced; the painting Victoria Regina (exh. RA 1880, Tate; second version exh. RA 1887, Royal Coll.) made him a household name; continued to exhibit at RA until his death, at home, Thorpe Lodge, Campden Hill, Kensington, on 16 January 1903.

Mr. Wells, R.A., had a pleasant house and garden on Campden Hill. As he told me, he had begun as a miniature painter, and took to portrait painting on a life-size scale later. As far as I remember him, side-whiskers and the general appearance of a successful business man in a frock-coat and top-hat is my impression. He had a kindly and gracious manner, his accurate pronunciation interfered with by – I suppose – adenoids.[3]

D.G. Rossetti, writing to William Bell Scott:

Your description of Wells is very accurate. He is offensively deserving, & snorts too, but is all right in his way.[4]

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) Or 7 December 1857; see C. Newall, ‘Boyce (married name Wells), Joanna Mary (1831–1861)’, ODNB, Oxford, 2004.
2) D.G. Rossetti on the Summer Exhibition, RA, May 1861: ‘Mrs. Wells (Boyce’s sister) has some firstrate things, and her husband (who has been driven from miniature to oil by the progress of photography) is not far behind her.’ Letter from D.G. Rossetti to W. Allingham [10 May 1861], Fredeman 2002–10, vol.2, 2003, letter 61:23, p.357.
3) Jacomb-Hood 1925, p.316.
4) Letter from D.G. Rossetti to W.B. Scott, 31 Oct. 1863, Fredeman 2002–10, vol.3, 2004, letter 63:96, p.302.

Referencesback to top

Bradbury 2012
Bradbury, S., Joanna, George and Henry: A Pre-Raphaelite Tale of Art, Love and Friendship, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2012.

Cooper 1876–83
Cooper, T., Men of Mark: A Gallery of Contemporary Portraits of Men Distinguished in the Senate, the Church, in Science, Literature and Art, the Army, Navy, Law, Medicine, etc. Photographed from life by Lock and Whitfield, London, 7 ser., 1876–83.

Fredeman 2002–10
Fredeman, W.E., ed., The Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 9 vols, Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2002–10.

Graves 1913–15
Graves, A., A Century of Loan Exhibitions 1813–1912, 5 vols, London, 1913-–15.

Hacking 2000
Hacking, J., Princes of Victorian Bohemia: Photographs by David Wilkie Wynfield, exh. cat., NPG, London, 2000.

Hamburg 1886
Verzeichniss der Gemälde der G.C. Schwabe-Stiftung, Kunsthalle Zu Hamburg, 1886.

Jacomb-Hood 1925
Jacomb-Hood, G.P., With Brush and Pencil, London, 1925.

Maas 1984
Maas, J., The Victorian Art World in Photographs, London, 1984.

Milner 1912b
Milner, J.D., ‘Wells, Henry Tanworth (1828–1903)’, DNB, supplement 2, London, 1912.

Milner 2004
Milner, J.D., ‘Wells, Henry Tanworth (1828–1903)’, rev. V. Remington, ODNB, Oxford, 2004.

Morris & Milner 1992
Morris, E., and F. Milner, ‘And When Did You Last See Your Father?’, exh. cat., Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1992.

Newall & Egerton 1987
Newall, C., and J. Egerton, George Price Boyce, exh. cat., Tate Gallery, London, 1987.

Nunn 1996
Nunn, P.G., ‘A Centre on the Margins’, in E. Harding, ed., Re-Framing the Pre-Raphaelites: Historical and Theoretical Essays, Aldershot, 1996, pp.43–60.

O’Donoghue 1908–22
O’Donoghue, F., Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits preserved in the Department of Prints and Drawings in the British Museum, 5 vols, London, 1908–22 (and vol.6, H.M. Hake, Supplement and indexes, 1925).

Robinson [1892]
Robinson, R.W., Members and Associates of the Royal Academy of Arts, 1891. Photographed in their Studios by Ralph W. Robinson of Redhill, n.p., [1892].

Sitwell 1936
Sitwell, S., Conversation Pieces, London, 1936.

Surtees 1980
Surtees, V., ed., The Diaries of George Price Boyce, Norwich, 1980.

Tate 1935
An Exhibition of Paintings by Joanna Mary Boyce (Mrs H.T. Wells) 1831–1861, Tate Gallery, London, 1935.

Trippi 2002
Trippi, P., J.W. Waterhouse, London, 2002.