John Cawse

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Portrait of Carl Maria von Weber, 1826.

John Cawse (25 December 1778 – 19 January 1862) was a British painter and caricaturist.


He was born on 25 December 1778, the son of Charles Woodruffe Cawse and his wife Mary, of Little Prescott Street, Whitechapel.[1] His father described himself in his will as a "Staymaker and Dealer in Whale Fins".[2]

Early in his career he was employed to draw caricatures by the print publisher SW Fores.[1] He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1802,[3] showing mostly portraits, but also some paintings of horses and, from the early 1830s, a few historical pictures.[4] Between 1807 and 1845 he exhibited at the British Institution, predominantly showing literary and historical subjects, including scenes from the works of Shakespeare and Walter Scott.[5] His portrait of the clown Joseph Grimaldi is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery [6] and his 1826 painting of Carl Maria von Weber is in that of the Royal College of Music.[7]

He is best remembered for his book The Art of Painting Portraits, Landscapes, Animals, Draperies, &c., in oil colours, published in 1840.[3] He was an amateur musician who, unusually for the time, played the antiquated viola da gamba (i.e. the bass viol);[8] an instrument he once owned is in the Victoria and Albert Museum.[9]


He married Mary Fraser; two of their daughters, Mary and Harriet Cawse, became opera singers; another, Clarissa Sabina, was a miniature painter[1]



  1. ^ a b c "John Cawse (Biographical details)". British Museum. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Will of Charles Woodroffe Cawse, Staymaker and Dealer in Whale Fins of Saint Mary". National Archives. Retrieved 22 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b Bryan 1886
  4. ^ Graves, Algernon (1905). The Royal Academy: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors from its Foundations in 1769 to 1904. 2. London: Henry Graves. p. 18.
  5. ^ Graves, Algernon (1908). The British Institution 1806 –1867 A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and their Work from the Foundation of the Institution. London: George Bell and Sons. p. 92.
  6. ^ "Joseph Grimaldi". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 5 July 2015.
  7. ^ "Research & Collections". Retrieved 5 July 2012.
  8. ^ Holman, Peter (Summer 2011). "Life after death" (PDF). CHOMBEC News (11): 7. ISSN 1751-3308.
  9. ^ "Bass viol". Victoria and Albert Museum. Retrieved 30 December 2013.


  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainBryan, Michael (1886). "Cawse, John". In Graves, Robert Edmund (ed.). Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers (A–K). I (3rd ed.). London: George Bell & Sons.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

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