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Hamerton, Philip Gilbert

    Image Credit: Wikipedia

    Full Name: Hamerton, Philip Gilbert

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1834

    Date Died: 1894

    Place Born: Lanesise, Shaw, UK

    Place Died: Boulogne-sur-Seine, France

    Home Country/ies: United Kingdom

    Career(s): art critics


    Etcher, art critic and art book author. Hamerton was born to John Hamerton, a lawyer, and Anne Cocker (Hamerton). Hamerton’s mother died shortly after his birth and he was raised by his aunts in Burnley, England. He studied at the grammar schools in Burnley and Doncaster. In 1853 he moved to London to study painting under Joseph Paul Pettitt (1812-82) and later with William Wyld (1806-1889) in Paris. Hamerton lived and painted in the Lake District as well as the Scottish island of Innistrynich, Loch Awe. Here he authored his first book in 1855, collected poems entitled The Isles of Loch Awe and other Poems of My Youth. He also engaged in art criticism, heavily influenced by John Ruskin. He moved to Sens, France where he married Eugénie Gindriez, the daughter of a French republican magistrate. By the early 1860’s the couple were living in Pré-Charmoy were Hamerton engaged in writing salon and other art criticism. A Painter’s Camp in the Highlands, his memoirs of painting in Scotland, and Thoughts About Art both appeared in 1862. Some of his earliest criticism involved the famous 1863 Paris Salon, appearing in The Fine Arts Quarterly Review in October 1863. Other articles and book reviews appeared in the Cornhill Magazine, Macmillan’s Magazine and the Fortnightly Review. Hamerton succeeded Francis T. Palgrave as art critic for the Saturday Review in 1866, a position he held until 1868. In 1868 he published Etching and Etchers, a biographical and critical account of etchers, helping to revive the interest in the medium. From 1869 until his death in 1894, Hamerton edited and co-owned The Portfolio, one of the most important British art journals of the 19th-century. In 1879 he brought out a biography on J. M. W. Turner. He was made an Officier d’Académie in France in 1882 and received a LL.D. degree from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.Hamerton’s art criticism could be pedantic, a fact highlighted in the famous exchange with the artist James McNeill Whistler. Hamerton noted in an 1867 piece critiquing Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 3 that the painting was “not precisely a symphony in white”, since yellow, brown, blue, red and green were also used. Whistler’s witty retort was that Hamerton must believe “that a symphony in F contains no other note, but…a continued repetition of F, F, F”. Hamerton’s conservative aesthetics emphasized technique as the major criterion in art appreciation. However, his writing on etching is considered, along with the work of Sir F. Seymour Haden (1818-1910), to have contributed to the revival of etching in American and Britain.

    Selected Bibliography

    The Etcher’s Handbook. Boston: Roberts, 1881; The Etchings of Rembrandt. New York: Macmillan and Co., 1894; The Graphic Arts: a Treatise on the Varieties of Drawing, Painting, and Engraving in Comparison with Each Other and with Nature. London: Seeley, Jackson, and Halliday, 1882; The Life of J. M. W. Turner, R.A.. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1879; A Painter’s Camp. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1867; Painting in France: after the Decline of Classicism: an Essay. Boston: Little, Brown, 1895; Paris in Old and Present Times. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1888; Thoughts about Art. Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1871; [edited] The Portfolio. London: Seeley and Co., 1870-94 [continues to 1907].


    Hamerton, Philip Gilbert, and Hamerton, Eugénie. Philip Gilbert Hamerton: an Autobiography, 1834-1858, and a Memoir by His Wife, 1858-1894. London: Seeley, 1897; Center for Whistler Studies. The Correspondence. “Philip Gilbert Hamerton.”; Czach, Marie.”Philip Gilbert Hamerton.” Dictionary of Art ; Czach, Marie. Philip Gilbert Hamerton: Victorian Art Critic. dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985.


    "Hamerton, Philip Gilbert." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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