John Crome

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John Crome
John Crome - Project Gutenberg eText 21538.jpg
Portrait of John Crome, by Michael William Sharp
Born John Crome
(1761-12-22)22 December 1761
Norwich, England
Died 22 April 1821(1821-04-22) (aged 59)
Nationality English
Movement Norwich School

John Crome (22 December 1768 – 22 April 1821) was an English landscape artist of the Romantic era, one of the principal artists of the Norwich School art movement. He is also known as Old Crome to distinguish him from his son, John Berney Crome, who was also a well-known artist.

Crome became the founder of the Norwich School of painters, of which John Sell Cotman is another famous member. He worked in watercolour and oil. His oil paintings number in excess of 300. Many can be seen at major galleries around the world, including the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy, but he is well represented in Norwich at the Castle Museum and Art Gallery.[1] He produced etchings and taught art. One of his pupils was James Stark; another was Edward Thomas Daniell.


Crome's two main influences are considered to be Dutch 17th-century painting and the work of Wilson. Along with John Constable (1776–1837), Crome was one of the earliest English artists to represent identifiable species of trees, rather than generalised forms. His works, renowned for their originality and vision, were inspired by direct observation of the natural world combined with a comprehensive study of old masters.

Life and work[edit]

Mousehold Heath, Norwich, c. 1818-1820

Crome was born in Norwich in Norfolk, the son of a weaver. After a period as an errand boy (from the age of 12), he was apprenticed to Francis Whisler, a house, coach and sign painter. About this time he formed a friendship with Robert Ladbrooke, an apprentice printer, who became a celebrated landscape painter. The pair shared a room and went on sketching trips in the fields and lanes around Norwich. They occasionally bought art prints to copy.

Crome and Ladbrooke sold some of their art work to a local print-seller, "Smith and Jaggers" of Norwich. It was probably through the print-seller that John met, Thomas Harvey of Old Catton, who helped him set up as a drawing teacher. He had access to Harvey's art collection which allowed him to hone his skills by copying the works of Gainsborough and Hobbemas. Crome received further instruction and encouragement from notable artists Sir William Beechey R.A. and John Opie R.A.

In October 1792 Crome married Phoebe Berney - they had two daughters and six sons. His eldest son, John Berney Crome (1794–1842) was a landscape painter of note, as was his third son William Henry Crome (1806–67).

Crome was drawing master at the grammar school in the city, the Norwich School, for many years. Several members of the Norwich School art movement were educated at the institution and taught by Crome when he was drawing master.[2]

Crome's Broad and nearby Crome's Farm, to the west of the River Ant and north of How Hill in The Broads National Park are named after "Old Crome". Furthermore, the area surrounding Heartsease is covered by the Crome ward and division on Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council respectively.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Cundall (1920) pp. 1, 17, 25, 26, 27, 31

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