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Thomas Hearne FSA (1744-1817)

Thomas Hearne, FSA (1744-1817)

One of the most influential topographical draughtsmen of the late eighteenth century, Thomas Hearne produced meticulous and atmospheric tinted drawings that helped raise the status of his art.

Thomas Hearne was born at Marshfield, Gloucestershire, on 22 September 1744, the only son of William Hearne and his wife, Prudence. His father died when he was about five years old, and he then moved with his mother to Brinkworth, near Malmesbury, in Wiltshire. In his teens, he was sent to London to become apprenticed to an uncle, who was a pastry cook in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. It has been suggested (Fenwick 2004, page 160) that he was ‘probably encouraged ... to pursue his artistic inclinations’ by his next door neighbour, the draughtsman and engraver, John Miller (who had been born Johann Müller in Nuremberg in about 1715).

Gaining premiums from the Society of Arts for a still life drawing in 1763 and an equestrian subject in 1764, Hearne became apprenticed to the engraver, William Woollett, in 1765.

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