(b London, 8 Feb. 1819; d Brantwood, nr. Coniston, Cumberland [now Cumbria], 20 Jan. 1900). English writer, artist, social reformer, and philanthropist. He was the most important English art critic of the 19th century, with a remarkable hold over public opinion, and also a talented and prolific draughtsman and watercolourist, mainly of landscape and architectural subjects. His father was a wealthy wine importer who liked paintings and encouraged his son (his only child) in his intellectual interests; his mother too was devoted to him, but in a repressive, puritanical way. He was educated at home and travelled a good deal in Britain and on the Continent with his parents, developing an ardent love of nature (he was deeply interested in botany and geology) as well as a feeling for art.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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