Verdant vistas are abound in the work of British artist Robert John Hammond. He produced a large number of landscape and genre scenes depicting the picturesque British countryside during his career.
Originally training as a watchmaker, it seems passion called louder than vocation, for Hammond gave up his dependable craft to engage in the painting of British landscapes.
Such paintings had burgeoned in popularity during the 19th-century so that by Hammond’s time there was a strong market. His clients were most likely those wishing to recapture the idyll of a countryside becoming seemingly more and more out of reach with the tumorous growth of industrialisation.
Despite appearing to have not received any formal training, there is much to suggest Hammond worked with landscape artist Frederick Henry Henshaw (1807–1891) on a number of occasions. Henshaw was a member of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, where the two men lived, and exhibited extensively at the Royal Academy in London. Perhaps he took on the role of tutor to Hammond. There are certainly some similarities in their style, with lustrous skies and crotchety oak trees bent at aching angles.
It seems Hammond also took inspiration from the greats of landscape art. His use of lush greens in winding woodlands is evocative of Constable.
His work is also infused with a romantic air, carried through in the neatness of thatched roofs, the rosy cherub-cheeks of children in traditional rustic dress. This romanticism strikes more to the tune of Turner.
Certainly, it seems that a blend of the fantasy with just enough realism to be conceivable is what purchasers of Hammond’s work desired. They were certainly popular. He exhibited on numerous occasions in Birmingham and Manchester.
His son would follow in his footsteps, becoming himself a landscape artist, as well as a lithographer. Perhaps he had his father’s bravery to thank in giving up time to focus on art for his own success. Some of his work is now held by the Birmingham Museums Trust.
Born in Shoreditch, London.
Moved to Sutton Coldfield to apprentice in watchmaking.
Married Lucy Banner.
Changed profession to painter. Began exhibiting his work.