BRIGHT, Henry

1810 - 1873

Henry Bright

Born in Saxmundham, Suffolk in June 1810, his date of birth is uncertain: although 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. After attending a ‘school for young gentlemen’ at North Entrance, Saxmundham, run by Owen Haxell, Bright was apprenticed to a chemist in Woodbridge, his parents then moved him to Norwich to work for Paul Squires, a chemist and soda water manufacturer who introduced Bright into the local artistic circles where he must have met artists such as John Sell Cotman (1782-1842) and John Berney Crome (1794-1842). Determined to become an artist himself, he persuaded his parents to let him transfer his indentures to artist Alfred Stannard. 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 died in childhood, and two daughters. In 1836 the family moved to Paddington, London where Bright lived for twenty years and subsequently moving to Grove Cottage, Great Ealing. Bright began exhibiting at the British Institution and the Liverpool Academy in 1836, and from 1839 until 1845 a member of the New Society of Painters in Water Colours, where he showed thirty-eight drawings before his resignation, Queen Victoria purchased his ‘Entrance to an Old Prussian Town’ from the 1844 exhibition. Between 1843 and 1850 Bright exhibited nine oils at the Royal Academy, but failed to be elected to the academy when he stood in 1847. He was also a member of the Graphic Society from 1847 until 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 of friends included David Cox, Samuel Prout, Henry Jutsum, and James Duffield Harding, an important influence artistically, who eventually passed onto 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 and the Grand Duchess Marie of Russia. As well as publishing chromolithographs 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 and both Charles and Edwin Landseer. A photograph of Bright, aged thirty-one, shows an apparently stout man with a full face and black tangled hair. He suffered from ill-health and there is a suggestion of restlessness about his life and much of his surviving correspondence is addressed from hotels. As well as making sketching tours within the British Isles, his exhibited works indicate visits to the Netherlands, France, Germany, and Prussia. He remained active in East Anglia, however, and was vice-president of the Suffolk Fine Art Association. By October 1870 Bright had returned to Ipswich to live at the house of his niece at 22 Anglesea Road, where he died after months of illness on 21 September 1873, aged 59 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 Painter