LUCAS, John Seymour

1849 - 1923

John Seymour Lucas

Born on 21 December 1849, fourth son of Henry Lucas, a coach block maker, and his wife Elizabeth, and grandson of William Lucas, late of King's Lynn, Norfolk. With the encouragement of an uncle, Lucas was first apprenticed to a wood carver and then to a sculptor. At sixteen he began a course of study with his cousin, John Templeton Lucas, a noted genre painter, but turned his attention to portrait painting and entered St. Martin's Lane Art School and later the Royal Academy Schools where he met his future wife. Lucas’s artistic education included extensive travels around Europe, particularly Holland and Spain, where he studied the Flemish and Spanish Masters. In 1871, John was a 21 year old student living at 14 Long Acre, St Martin-in-the-Fields with his parents, 61 year old Henry, born London and 56 year old Elizabeth, born Lambeth and one of his many siblings. He commenced exhibiting in 1872 and elected an associate member of the Royal Academy in 1876 and a full Royal Academician in 1898. He married at St Giles, London on 18 July 1877, Marie Elizabeth (1850-1921), daughter of Louis Dieudonn Cornelissen of Paris and London, and in 1881 a 30 year old historical artist living at 21 Queen Square, St Pancras, London with his 30 year old wife Maria, born Paris and two children, Sydney and Mary Ellen. Lucas was an historical genre painter with a particular talent for realism in the depiction of costumes and interiors. Inspired by van Dyck and particularly Diego Velázquez, he excelled in depicting scenes from the English 16th to 18th century Tudor and Stuart periods and the English Civil War and the Jacobite rebellions. His first major work to achieve widespread public acclaim was ‘Rebel Hunting after Culloden’ 1884 and the following year produced ‘Preparing for the Voyage’ and as well as executing over 100 major oil paintings and a host of drawings. Lucas was also renowned as a set and costume designer for the historical dramas popular on the late Victorian and early Edwardian stages. By 1891 Lucas had moved to 1 Woodchurch Road, South Hampstead, London with a purpose-built studio, designed for him by his friend and fellow artist, architect Sydney Williams-Lee and remained there until his retirement. He must have had regular visits to Blythburgh, Suffolk as in 1911 when he and his wife were living at Hampstead, his two servants were both from Blythburgh. He retired from painting towards the end of World War One, and moved to Blythburgh where re-designed a house next to the church known as 'The Priory'. Lucas died on 8 May 1923 and is interred in Blythburgh churchyard. His collection of antique costumes was acquired by the London Museum upon his death. His wife Marie, who died in 1921 also painted portraits and their son was Sydney Seymour Lucas [q.v.].




Works by This Painter