John Middleton (1827-1856) During his brief career, John Middleton developed into a landscape painter of great freshness and acute observation. His works show a particular interest in such details of nature as rocky streams and plants and grasses. John Middleton was born in the Parish of St Stephen, Norwich on 9 January 1827. His father was a painter and decorator and his mother an amateur flower painter who exhibited at the Norwich Society of Artists. Studying art under John Berney Ladbrooke, John Crome and Henry Bright, he befriended a number of local artists. During a sketching tour with Bright – to Kent in 1847 – he produced watercolours of such confidence and freedom that he influenced his own teacher.
In the same year, he moved to London, and began to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Arts and the British Institution. On the death of his father in 1848, he was called back to Norwich to take over the family business. Nevertheless, he continued to work as an artist – painting in oil and watercolour, undertaking sketching trips (to Devon, Wales and Scotland), and exhibiting in London and Norwich. His later work can be identified by a greater degree of finish. He also produced etchings – after his own paintings – and took an active interest in photography.
John Middleton died of consumption on 11 November 1856 in Surrey Street, Norwich.
His work is represented in the collections of the British Museum and Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery.