Crome, William Henry (1806-1873)

Crome, William Henry (1806-1873)

William Henry Crome was a British artist predominantly known for his Dutch-inspired landscapes and evocative nocturnes. He was the son of ‘old’ John Crome (1768-1821), one of the founders of the Norwich School of painters, and was trained by him until the age of 15. His works are held in numerous public collections including at the Manchester Art Gallery, Nottingham City Museum and University of Edinburgh.

Alongside his work as a painter, he was also an accomplished poet and in 1857 had a piece published by The Art Journal titled ‘The Dying Artist’. Written as an obituary for a close friend.

The Dying Artist

Published in the Art Journal, 1857.

These slanting rocks-their shadows best
I love and this bare rugged strand;
Here let me for a little rest
On this green strip of shaded land,
And look again on either hand
To scenes I loved; still let me be
In sight and sound of yonder sea.
Longer, yet longer, for the sun
With widening orb yet rules the sky;
His godlike course in glory done,
I follow still with glazing eye:
Those fires the coming morn will give
Again-but my long night is nigh;
No vain regrets-I would not live.
Of hope-long past-oh, speak no more;
Of love-alas! I loved in vain;
Your passing words, this lonely shore,
With all I lost, and most deplore,
Revive sad memories again
From clouded years; to me it seems
Life, love, and death, are only dreams.
The glories of a coming day
Are pictured sunlike on my brain,
And from mine uncompanioned way,
And from this mighty source of pain,
My larger soul, and wider sight,
With thankful energy regain
Their fountain-head-the Light of light.
Marvel not, dying I should gaze
On God's own emblem to the last,
Though weak that type-yet, oh, those rays
Are not of earth, though earthward cast:
My soul sweeps onward through the maze
Of whirling passions, and I feel
The "silver cord" is loosed at last,
And broken too life's cistern wheel.
My name? a blank above my grave-
'Twas only charactered on sand;
The eddying wind and blinding wave
Will blot its memory from the land.
Fame loves alone the wise, the brave,
But I-my years were like this strand-
Bare, bleak, and barren, from whose roots
There springs no bud, and bloom no fruits.
Wave curls on wave-how deeply blue
Our Indian skies are imaged there!
And not a cloud to meet the view,
Nor breath to cool the burning air.
O shade of death! if life be fair,
Can one so young then welcome thee?
Thy low voice seems, like my despair,
To mix with murmurs from the sea.

In a note which Mr. Crome, whose name as a painter must be familiar to many of our readers, sent us with the poem, he says-"A very young artist of great promise, after a short sojourn on the continent, returned home to die-his illness a broken heart: after much flesh-weariness he reached the Malabar coast, his native home, and died, as he desired, on the lone sea-shore. I knew him well, and have endeavoured to embody somewhat of the impress made on me by the tenour of the last letter he ever wrote, which was to me."

Public Collections

Manchester Art Gallery, Nottingham City Museum, University of Edinburgh, The Box in Plymouth.



Born in Elmonton, Norfolk to John Crome (1768-1821), a painter and one of the founders of the Norwich School of painters, and Phoebe Crome (nee Barney).

Trained initially by his father and, following John Crome’s death, probably by his older brother John Berney Crome.


Debuted at the British Institution with ‘A View at Cotessy, Norfolk’.
Lived in Norwich.


Married Mary Ann Taylor Moore in Westminster, London. The pair would have at least three children including Vivian Crome (1843-1915) who also became a painter.


Lived in Greenwich, London.


Travelled to Brussels, Belgium.


Lived in Chelsea St Luke, London.


Died in Greenwich, London.

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