Thomas Seddon

Last updated

For the New Zealand politician see Tom Seddon

Thomas Seddon (London, 28 August 1821 – Cairo, 23 November 1856) was an English landscape painter associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who painted colourful and highly detailed scenes of Brittany, Egypt and Jerusalem.



The Citadel of Cairo, 1856 Seddon The Citadel of Cairo.jpg
The Citadel of Cairo, 1856
Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshaphat from the Hill of Evil Counsel, 1854. (Tate Gallery) Thomas Seddon - Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshaphat from the Hill of Evil Counsel - Google Art Project.jpg
Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshaphat from the Hill of Evil Counsel, 1854. (Tate Gallery)

Seddon was born on 28 August 1821 in Aldersgate Street in the City of London, the son of a well-known cabinet-maker of the same name. He was educated at a school conducted on the Pestalozzian system by the Rev. Joseph Barron at Stanmore, and then worked for his father until 1841, when he was sent to Paris to study ornamental art. [1] [2]

City of London City and county in United Kingdom

The City of London is a city and local government district that contains the historic centre and the primary central business district (CBD) of London. It constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the agglomeration has since grown far beyond the City's borders. The City is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of London, though it remains a notable part of central London. Administratively, it forms one of the 33 local authority districts of Greater London; however, the City of London is not a London borough, a status reserved for the other 32 districts. It is also a separate county of England, being an enclave surrounded by Greater London. It is the smallest county in the United Kingdom.

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi was a Swiss pedagogue and educational reformer who exemplified Romanticism in his approach.

Stanmore suburban area of the London Borough of Harrow, in northwest London.

Stanmore is a suburban residential district of in the London Borough of Harrow in Greater London. It is centred 11 miles (18 km) northwest of Charing Cross. The area, based on the ancient parish of Great Stanmore includes southern slopes of the unnamed ridge of hills rising to Stanmore Hill, one of the highest points of London, 152 metres (499 ft) high. The population of the appropriate London Borough of Harrow Ward was 11,229 at the 2011 Census. The Canons ward which covers Stanmore railway station and eastern areas had a population of 12,471 at the same census.

He then returned to work in the family business. [3] Although Seddon had already decided to become a painter, he continued to study design conscientiously, attending Thomas Leverton Donaldson's lectures on architecture and studying works in the British Museum. In 1848 his design for an ornamental sideboard won him a silver medal from the Society of Arts. [4] Meanwhile, he took lessons at Charles Lucy's drawing school in Camden Town, and attended life classes held by the Artists' Society at Clipstone Street. [5] In the summer of 1849, he went to North Wales, visiting Betws-y-Coed, then a popular destination for artists, where he made his first serious attempts at landscape painting. [6] The next year he went to Barbizon in the forest of Fontainbleau, where he made some studies in oil. [7]

Thomas Leverton Donaldson British architect

Thomas Leverton Donaldson was a British architect, notable as a pioneer in architectural education, as a co-founder and President of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a winner of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal.

Sideboard furnishing

A sideboard, also called a buffet, is an item of furniture traditionally used in the dining room for serving food, for displaying serving dishes, and for storage. It usually consists of a set of cabinets, or cupboards, and one or more drawers, all topped by a wooden surface for conveniently holding food, serving dishes, or lighting devices. The words sideboard and buffet are somewhat interchangeable, but if the item has short legs, or a base that sits directly on the floor with no legs, it is more likely to be called a sideboard; if it has longer legs it is more likely to be called a buffet. In Polish it's named kredens, from Latin credo.

Camden Town Inner city district of London

Camden Town, often shortened to Camden, is a district of northwest London, England, 2.5 miles (4.1 km) north of Charing Cross. It is the administrative centre of the London Borough of Camden, and identified in the London Plan as one of 34 major centres in Greater London.

By the beginning of 1848 Seddon had come into contact with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, having met Ford Madox Brown, and during 1850 he worked on a copy of Chaucer at the Court of Edward III in Brown's studio. Around this time he was also involved in the setting up of the North London School of Drawing and Modelling, an art school for working men [8] in Camden Town. [1] At the end of 1850 he suffered a severe attack of rheumatic fever, [9] during which – apparently close to death – he was reconciled with organised religion, having stopped attending church some years before; according to his brother's memoir "those that knew him best regard[ed] that sickness as the turning point in his spiritual history, and the commencement of his practical Christianity." [10] Just after this illness Seddon left his father's business, which was about to be relocated to Gray's Inn Road. [11] He moved to rooms in Percy Street, off Tottenham Court Road, where he completed a painting of figure subject, Penelope, which was his first work to be shown at the Royal Academy. [12] He visited Wales again in late 1851 and the following summer went to Dinan in Brittany where his sisters were staying; [13] a landscape painted there was shown at the Royal Academy the next year. [14]

Ford Madox Brown 19th-century English painter

Ford Madox Brown was a British painter of moral and historical subjects, notable for his distinctively graphic and often Hogarthian version of the Pre-Raphaelite style. Arguably, his most notable painting was Work (1852–1865). Brown spent the latter years of his life painting the twelve works known as The Manchester Murals, depicting Mancunian history, for Manchester Town Hall.

Dinan Subprefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Dinan is a walled Breton town and a commune in the Côtes-d'Armor department in northwestern France. On 1 January 2018, the former commune of Léhon was merged into Dinan.

Seddon spent much of the early part of 1853 preparing for a journey to Egypt in the company of one of the Brotherhood's founders, William Holman Hunt. In June he went to Dinan again, where he painted a large and elaborate landscape showing the ruined monastery of Léhon. Seddon left France for Egypt in November, arriving in Alexandria on 6 December, [15] and moved on to Cairo, Hunt not having yet arrived.

William Holman Hunt Pre-Raphaelite artist

William Holman Hunt was an English painter and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. His paintings were notable for their great attention to detail, vivid color, and elaborate symbolism. These features were influenced by the writings of John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle, according to whom the world itself should be read as a system of visual signs. For Hunt it was the duty of the artist to reveal the correspondence between sign and fact. Of all the members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Hunt remained most true to their ideals throughout his career. He was always keen to maximize the popular appeal and public visibility of his works.

Alexandria Metropolis in Egypt

Alexandria is the second-largest city in Egypt and a major economic centre, extending about 32 km (20 mi) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country. Its low elevation on the Nile delta makes it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels. Alexandria is an important industrial center because of its natural gas and oil pipelines from Suez. Alexandria is also a popular tourist destination.

Seddon and Hunt set up camp near the Pyramids, with another Englishman called Nicholson, who was terminally ill, and died there. [16] Then, in a change of plan, the two artists decided to move on to Jerusalem, sailing from the mouth of the Nile in late May. [17] On arrival Seddon left Hunt in the city, [17] and pitched a tent on a hill looking up the valley of Jehosophat, with a view of the biblical sites of the Garden of Gethsemane and the Mount of Olives, [18] from where he painted much of the highly finished landscape Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshaphat from the Hill of Evil Counsel. He left the city for France in October 1854. [19]

Mount of Olives mountain in Jerusalem that is mentioned several times in the Bible

The Mount of Olives or Mount Olivet is a mountain ridge east of and adjacent to Jerusalem's Old City. It is named for the olive groves that once covered its slopes. The southern part of the Mount was the Silwan necropolis, attributed to the ancient Judean kingdom. The mount has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves, making it central in the tradition of Jewish cemeteries. Several key events in the life of Jesus, as related in the Gospels, took place on the Mount of Olives, and in the Acts of the Apostles it is described as the place from which Jesus ascended to heaven. Because of its association with both Jesus and Mary, the mount has been a site of Christian worship since ancient times and is today a major site of pilgrimage for Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, and Protestants.

Although the Valley of Jehosphat was exhibited with the subtitle Painted on the Spot during the Summer and Autumn Months, Seddon continued to work on it in Dinan, along with another oil painting and two watercolours also begun in Jerusalem,. [18] He finally finished it, with some help from Hunt, following his return to London in January 1855 and showed it for the first time at an exhibition in his studio in Berners Street in March of the same year. [18] His Eastern subjects were exhibited again the following year in Conduit Street.

In October 1856 Seddon visited Cairo again, [2] but died of dysentry there on 23 November. [1] In 1857 his works were exhibited in the gallery of the Society of Arts, and Jerusalem and the Valley of Jehoshaphat, was purchased by subscription and presented to the National Gallery. [2] John Ruskin pronounced Seddon's views of Egypt and Palestine to be "the first landscapes uniting perfect artistical skill with topographical accuracy; being directed, with stern self-restraint, to no other purpose than that of giving to persons who cannot travel trustworthy knowledge of the scenes which ought to be most interesting to them". [2]

A memoir of Seddon, by his brother, John Pollard Seddon, was published in 1859. [2]

See also

Related Research Articles

John Everett Millais English painter and illustrator

Sir John Everett Millais, 1st Baronet was an English painter and illustrator who was one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. He was a child prodigy who, aged eleven, became the youngest student to enter the Royal Academy Schools. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded at his family home in London, at 83 Gower Street. Millais became the most famous exponent of the style, his painting Christ in the House of His Parents (1850) generating considerable controversy, and painting perhaps the embodiment of the school, Ophelia, in 1850–51.

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848

The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of English painters, poets, and art critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The three founders were joined by William Michael Rossetti, James Collinson, Frederic George Stephens and Thomas Woolner to form the seven-member "brotherhood". Their principles were shared by other artists, including Ford Madox Brown, Arthur Hughes and Marie Spartali Stillman. A later, medievalising strain inspired by Rossetti included Edward Burne-Jones and extended into the twentieth century with artists such as John William Waterhouse.

John William Waterhouse 19th and 20th-century English painter

John William Waterhouse was an English painter known for working first in the Academic style and for then embracing the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood's style and subject matter. His artworks were known for their depictions of women from both ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legend.

David Roberts (painter) Scottish painter

David Roberts RA was a Scottish painter. He is especially known for a prolific series of detailed lithograph prints of Egypt and the Near East that he produced from sketches he made during long tours of the region (1838–1840). These and his large oil paintings of similar subjects made him a prominent Orientalist painter. He was elected as a Royal Academician in 1841.

Henry Holiday British artist

Henry Holiday was a British historical genre and landscape painter, stained-glass designer, illustrator and sculptor. He is considered to be a member of the Pre-Raphaelite school of art.

Alfred William Hunt British artist

Alfred William Hunt, was a British painter. He was son of the landscapist Andrew Hunt.

Robert Braithwaite Martineau English painter

Robert Braithwaite Martineau was an English painter.

John Brett (artist) British artist

John Brett was an artist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite movement, mainly notable for his highly detailed landscapes.

<i>The Shadow of Death</i> painting by William Holman Hunt

The Shadow of Death is a religious painting by William Holman Hunt, on which he worked from 1870 to 1873, during his second trip to the Holy Land. It depicts Jesus as a young man prior to his ministry, working as a carpenter. He is shown stretching his arms after sawing wood. The shadow of his outstretched arms falls on a wooden spar on which carpentry tools hang, creating a "shadow of death" prefiguring the crucifixion. His mother Mary is depicted from behind, gazing up at the shadow, having been looking into a box in which she has kept the gifts given by the Magi.

<i>The Scapegoat</i> (painting) painting by William Holman Hunt

The Scapegoat (1854–1856) is a painting by William Holman Hunt which depicts the "scapegoat" described in the Book of Leviticus. On the Day of Atonement, a goat would have its horns wrapped with a red cloth – representing the sins of the community – and be driven off.

George Price Boyce was a British watercolour painter of landscapes and vernacular architecture in the Pre-Raphaelite style. He was a patron and friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

<i>The Awakening Conscience</i> painting

The Awakening Conscience (1853) is an oil-on-canvas painting by the English artist William Holman Hunt, one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, which depicts a young woman rising from her position in the lap of a man and gazing transfixed out of the window of a room.

<i>Ferdinand Lured by Ariel</i> painting by John Everett Millais

Ferdinand Lured by Ariel is an 1850 painting by John Everett Millais which depicts an episode from Act I, Scene II of Shakespeare's c. 1611 play The Tempest. It illustrates Ferdinand's lines "Where should this music be? i' the air or the earth?". He is listening to Ariel singing the lyric "Full fathom five thy father lies". Ariel is tipping Ferdinand's hat from his head, while Ferdinand holds on to its string and strains to hear the song. Ferdinand looks straight at Ariel, but the latter is invisible to him.

William James Blacklock British landscape artist

William James Blacklock was an English landscape painter, painting scenery in Cumbria, the Lake District and the Scottish Borders.

John William Hill American artist

John William Hill or often J.W. Hill was a British born American artist working in watercolor, gouache, lithography, and engraving. Hill's work focused primarily upon natural subjects including landscapes, still lifes, and ornithological and zoological subjects. In the 1850s, influenced by John Ruskin and Hill's association with American followers of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, his attention turned from technical illustration toward still life and landscape.

James Graham (1806–1869) was a Scottish photographer who took some of the earliest images of the Holy Land, where he was sent as lay secretary for the London Society for Promoting Christianity Amongst the Jews.

<i>Pegwell Bay, Kent – a Recollection of October 5th 1858</i> 1860 painting by William Dyce

Pegwell Bay, Kent – a Recollection of October 5th 1858 is an oil-on-canvas painting by British artist William Dyce, depicting the landscape at Pegwell Bay, on the east coast of Kent. Considered a Pre-Raphaelite work, Dyce employs a mode of heightened realism and intricate detail to create a powerful landscape. It is considered to be Dyce's best painting, and is held by the Tate Gallery.

Scottish art in the nineteenth century

Scottish art in the nineteenth century is the body of visual art made in Scotland, by Scots, or about scottish subjects. This period saw the increasing professionalisation and organisation of art in Scotland. Major institutions founded in this period included the Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland, the Royal Scottish Academy of Art, the National Gallery of Scotland, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Glasgow Institute. Art education in Edinburgh focused on the Trustees Drawing Academy of Edinburgh. Glasgow School of Art was founded in 1845 and Grays School of Art in Aberdeen in 1885.


  1. 1 2 3 Graves, Robert Edmund (1897). "Seddon, Thomas (1821-1856)". In Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography . 51. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Seddon, Thomas"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 24 (11th ed.). 1911. p. 577.
  3. Seddon 1858, p. 4.
  4. Seddon 1858, p. 5.
  5. The Orientalists (Exhibition catalogue). London: The Royal Academy of Arts. 1984. pp. 227–9.
  6. Seddon 1858, p. 7.
  7. Seddon 1858, p. 8.
  8. Staley and Newall 2004, pp. 106–7.
  9. Seddon 1858, p. 11-13.
  10. Seddon 1858, p. 14-15.
  11. Seddon 1858, p. 15.
  12. Seddon 1858, p. 17.
  13. Seddon 1858, p. 20–21.
  14. Seddon 1858, p. 23.
  15. Seddon 1858, p. 29.
  16. Seddon 1858, p. 51-8.
  17. 1 2 Seddon 1858, p. 64.
  18. 1 2 3 The Pre-Raphaelites (Exhibition catalogue). London: Tate Gallery. 1984. pp. 151–2.
  19. Staley and Newell 2004, p. 120.