1785 - 1866

John Thompson was born at Manchester on 25 May 1785, son of Richard Thompson, a London merchant, and his wife Sarah, John's younger brother was engraver Charles Thompson (17911843). John trained under engraver Allen Robert Branston (1778-1827) and then collaborated with the artist John Thurston (1774-1822) and engraved around nine hundred of Thurston's designs from 1814 onwards, including illustrations for Butler's 'Hudibras' in 1818 and was described as Branston's 'most celebrated pupil'. An English wood engraver known for his engravings in William Yarrell's 'History of British Birds' (1843) and Thompson also engraved the design for the 1839 penny postage envelope and the design for the iconic figure of Britannia which appeared on British banknotes. He exhibited from 1 Campden Hill Terrace, Kensington, at the Suffolk Fine Arts Association at Ipswich in 1850, a watercolour 'Design for a Warrior's Tomb'. He illustrated many books and was the most distinguished wood-engraver of his time and won the grand medal of honour for wood engraving at the 1855 Paris exhibition. He married in 1807, Harriott Eaton with five of their eight children surviving to adulthood, with his eldest son, Charles Thurston Thompson (18161868), following into his father's wood-engraving profession. With son Richard Anthony Thompson, an assistant director at the South Kensington Museum, assisted in organising the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. His three daughters, Isabel Agnes Cowper, Eliza Thompson and Augusta Thompson, were also accomplished wood-engravers. As a widower, John Thompson died at 9 Vicarage Gardens, Kensington on 20 February 1866, and buried at Kensal Green Cemetery on 27 February.

Works by This Artist