Francis Topham (1808-1877)
He began as an apprentice to his uncle, an engraver. Came to London in about 1830 and engraved coats of arms, business cards, and eventually illustrations. He joined the Clipstone St. Society, and turning completely to watercolours, was elected ANWS, and then NWS, in 1842 and 1843. Seceding in 1847, he was elected OWS. In the following year. He visited Ireland in 1844, 1860 and 1862, and was in Spain 1852-3. He also visited Italy. He returned to Spain in 1876, and died there. His most typical subjects are Irish and Spanish peasants and gypsies. His method of work – or lack of it – is described by JS Jenkins: ‘He put on colour and took of colour, rubbed and scrubbed, sponged out, repainted, washed, plastered and spluttered his drawings in a sort of frenzied way’. He was the father of FWW Topham.