c.1810 - 1873

Henry Bright

Henry Bright, was born at Saxmundham, Suffolk in June 1810, the year of his birth is uncertain as both his death certificate and gravestone state that he was fifty-nine when he died, third son of Jerome Bright (1770–1846), a clockmaker and jeweller, and his wife, Susannah née Denny (c.1771-1842) who married by licence at Alburgh, Norfolk on 28 June 1790. The Bright family attended the Congregational chapel at Rendham near Saxmundham where there is a family vault and where Henry was baptised in 1811. After attending a ‘school for young gentlemen’ at North Entrance, Saxmundham run by Owen Haxell, a school where he would have been a schoolfellow of Thomas Thurlow, Bright was apprenticed to a chemist in Woodbridge, Suffolk before moving to Norwich to work for Paul Squires, a chemist and soda water manufacturer, who introduced Bright into the local artistic circles where he would have met artists such as John Sell Cotman (1782-1842) and John Berney Crome (1794-1842). Determined to become an artist, Henry persuaded his parents to let him transfer his indentures to artist Alfred Stannard (1806-1889). On 2 May 1833, Bright married at Saxmundham parish church, Eliza (1813/14-1848), daughter of Bungay printer Charles Brightly, they had two sons, who both died in childhood, and two daughters. In 1836, Bright and his family moved to Paddington, London where Bright lived for some twenty years, subsequently moving to Grove Cottage, Great Ealing. In 1836, Bright began exhibiting at the British Institution and the Liverpool Academy and was a member of the New Society of Painters in Water Colours 1839-1845, where he exhibited thirty-eight drawings before his resignation, with Queen Victoria purchasing his ‘Entrance to an Old Prussian Town’ from the 1844 exhibition. Bright exhibited nine oils at the Royal Academy 1843-1850, but failed to be elected to the academy when he stood in 1847. Henry was also a member of the Graphic Society 1847-1853 and exhibited at Suffolk Fine Arts Association exhibition at the New Lecture Hall of the Mechanics' Institution at Ipswich in August 1850, a watercolour 'A Wreck'. His circle included David Cox, Samuel Prout, Henry Jutsum, and James Duffield Harding (1798-1863), who was an important influence artistically, who eventually passed on to Bright his considerable teaching practice. Bright earned up to £2,000 per annum from his many royal and aristocratic pupils, including the Landgravine of Hesse-Homburg, the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia and many local Suffolk artists As well as publishing chromo-lithographs and drawing books, such was his reputation that he gave his name to Bright's Superior Coloured Crayons and his testimonials included Winsor & Newton's Moist Water Colours. Bright was a natural draughtsman and his watercolours, typically of open skies and landscapes, have considerable freedom, freshness and richness of colour; he also made many drawings in chalk or pastel of old and picturesque buildings. Some of his work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Sir Francis Grant (1803-1878) and both Charles (1799-1879) and Edwin Landseer (1802-1878). As well as making sketching tours within the British Isles, his exhibited works indicate visits to the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Prussia, however he remained active in East Anglia and was vice-president of the Suffolk Fine Art Association. By October 1870, Bright had returned to Ipswich, living at the house of his niece at 22 Anglesea Road, where he died after months of illness on 21 September 1873, aged 59[sic] and buried in Ipswich cemetery five days later. At the time of his death he was said to have enough commissions to last him for ten or twelve years. A studio sale was held by Christie, Manson, and Woods on 22 May 1874.

Works by This Artist