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John Dawson Watson RWS RBA (1832-1892)

John Dawson Watson, RWS RBA (1832-1892)

As both painter and illustrator, John Dawson Watson absorbed the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites in general, and of John Everett Millais in particular. This influence was displayed in the clarity of draughtsmanship, the accuracy of detail and the intensity of colour of his concentrated genre scenes, both contemporary and historical.

John Dawson Watson was born in Sedbergh, which was then in Yorkshire, on 20 May 1832, the eldest son of the solicitor, Dawson Watson, and his wife, Mary (née Bragg). His siblings included the painter, Thomas James Watson. Displaying a precocious artistic talent, he produced quite a large number of drawings even before the age of seven. He was educated at Sedbergh Grammar School, under the Rev John Harrison Evans, and while there was helped to develop his artistic skills by Caroline Bella Green, the wife of the second master and a daughter of Julius Caesar Ibbetson.

In 1847, at the age of 15, Watson left Sedbergh, in order to train at Manchester School of Design.

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