Biography of John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope was a British painter. He is usually associated with Edward Burne-Jones and George Frederic Watts. He is known as the second-wave-pre-Raphaelite. His paintings are also studied while one is learning about Aestheticism and British Symbolism.

The Early Life of John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

John was born on 20th January 1829 in Yorkshire, England. His father was John Spencer Stanhope of Horsforth and Cannon Hall, MP. His mother was Elizabeth Wilhemina Coke, the youngest daughter among the three children of Thomas William Coke of Norfolk. John’s grandfather was also the Earl of Leicester.

John did not inherit the family’s estates and this made it easier for him to choose art as his career. While he was studying at Oxford he was also learning under Watts and helped him in his architectural paintings. He also traveled with him to Italy in the year 1853 and to Asia Minor in the year 1856 to 1857.

When he returned from his travel, he was invited to participate in Oxford murals project by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and he painted the ‘Sir Gawaine and the Damsels’

John Roddam Spencer Stanhope
John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

Personal Life of John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

John married Elizabeth King, the daughter of John James King on 10th January 1859. The couple settled in Hillhouse, Cawthorne and had one child daughter named Mary in the year 1860. On the same year, Stanhope’s home Sandroyd now known as Benfleet Hall near Cobham in Surrey was commissioned by the architect Philip Webb. The work in the house was completed by 1861, and this was Webb’s second house.

The house was designed in a way to accommodate Stanhope to work as a painter. There were two rooms, one for dressing the models and second as the waiting room. The fireplace was designed with figurative tiles by Burne-Jones. It was inspired by Chaucer’s dreaming vision in his poem “The Legend of Good Women”. The house was considered modest according to John’s success as a painter.

His daughter Mary, died at the age of seven. Since then he lives between Florence and London. In 1880 he permanently moved to Florence.

Achievements of John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

John was a regular exhibitor at Grosvenor Gallery. When he shifted to Florence he had painted the English Church and also the Chapel of Marlborough College.

 

Painting by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope
Painting by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

 

The Water Gate by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope
The Water Gate by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

Some of his famous paintings are:

  • Love and the Maiden in the year 1877
  • Penelope in the year 1849
  • The Wine Press in the year 1864
  • Thoughts of the Past in the year 1859
  • The Waters of Lethe by the Plains of Elysium in the year 1880
  • Morgan Le Fay in the year 1880
  • Why seek ye the living among the dread in the year 1896
  • Charon and Psyche in the year 1899

Death of John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

John died on 2nd August 1908 in Florence.

The legacy of John Roddam Spencer Stanhope

John’s legacy was carried forward by his niece Evelyn De Morgan. She also learned painting from John. Evelyn’s sister, A.M.W Stirling had written biographical essays called “A Painter of Dreams”.

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