We have already announced the death, on the 19th ultimo, at the age of fifty-nine, of the distinguished artist and most estimable gentleman whose portrait we now engrave. The loss will not easily be repaired, for Mr. Lucy was a worthy painter of our English school, who through life devoted himself, at the sacrifice of many opportunities of immediate gain, and despite much un merited discouragement, to the highest branches of historical painting.Mr. Lucy was Born at Hereford. In boyhood the bias for art manifested itself, and he spent all his spare time painting, on anything that came to hand, preparing his own colours and even manufacturing his own brushes. His friends, heedless of this disposition, apprenticed him at an early age to his uncle a chemist of Hereford. Yet still his love of art increased, and often during his apprenticeship he took a lantern to his bedroom, by the light of which he stealthily painted or drew till morning. The ruling passion proving at length irresistible, it was arranged that he could come to London to study art as a profession. before leaving his native city, he executed, although hitherto self-taught, an original allegorical transparency in celebration of the Reform Bill, which was set up over the offices of the Hereford Times.
After a short stay in London, he went to Paris, where he continued his studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, principally under Paul Delaroche. Returning to London, he became a student of the Royal Academy. After the completion of his scholarship (during which he supported himself by artistic work, executed when other students were taking rest) employment was given him by a Mr. Jones to make copies of works of old masters at the Hague and Paris
On the completion of this task he again returned to London. here, he with Thomas Seddon, cave Thomas, and one or two others, founded the school in Camden Town for teaching working men drawing and designing, which owing to want of funds, not withstanding the good services it was doing, was subsequently handed over to the government. His stay in England was however again short; he went back to Paris and at length settled in the artist-colony at Barbison, near Fountainebleu, where he resided nearly sixteen years, executing several of his most important works and rearing his family.One of the first works which brought him into notice on this side of the Channel was his Embarkation of the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflower, to which was awarded one of the prizes for oil paintings in the Westminster Hall competition of 1847.
Although he dwelt so long in France, the the subjects of nearly all Mr. Lucy's paintings are purely English - chiefly illustrative of events of national interest in the seventeenth century. The work by which he is probably best known is the large picture representing Cromwell, his family, Andrew Marve, and Secretary Thurlow, listening to Milton's organ-playing at Hampton Court Palace, on a Sunday afternoon in 1658. Messrs. Agnew purchased this picture for £1000, and published an engraving of it. Recently the picture has been presented by Mr. Graham, M.P. for Glasgow, to the Corporation of that city, to initiate a public gallery. Other of Mr. Lucy's principal works are "The Burial of Charles I." (one of the best historical pictures of our school); "The Parting of Lord and Lady William Russell" of which there is a small water-colour replica in the present Royal Academy Exhibition; "Lord Saye and Sele before Jack Cade," the property of the present Lord Saye and Sele; "Napoleon on Board the Orient" executed for Messrs Lloyd at the price of 800gs ; "Cromwell by the Death-Bed of his Favorite Daughter, Mrs Claypole": "Nelson in the Cabin of the Victory", and large pictures of Cromwell and Nelson, which are respectively in the collections of the Duke of Manchester and Sir Robert peel, duplicates having been obtained by the Duke of Wellington and others. Several of Mr. Lucy's paintings adorn the walls of public buildings in Washington, Boston, New York, and other cities of the United States. "The Babes in the Wood," one of the few genre pictures by the lamented artist, was published as a Coloured Supplement to this Journal.
Mr. Lucy was no less successful in portraiture than in historical painting. A commission was given to him by the late Sir Joshua Walmesly to execute a series of portraits of eminent men. The death of Sir Joshua terminated the commission, but those in the series that were already executed (including portraits of Mr. Gladstone, Mr. Cobden, Mr. Hume, Mr. Bright, Garibaldi, Cromwell, and Nelson) are now hung in the South Kensington Museum, in accordance with a late request of Sir Joshua. Among many commissions left unfinished at the painter's death was one from this Journal, a presentation portrait for his native city, and a figure of Alonzo Cano, intended to be executed in mosaic for the South Kensington Museum. Mr. Lucy was chairman of the committee of the New British Institution since its foundation in 1869. The artist's last illness was of a most painful and incapacitating character, and of very long duration; and it is to be feared that this, added to the fact that the branch of art which Mr. Lucy pursued so constantly was comparatively unremunerative, will leave his widow and large family in circumstances not such as could be desired. It seems precisely a case where a pension from the Civil List may most properly be granted.
The portrait is engraved from a photograph by Mr. John Watkins.