Born 3rd September, in London, to Livonian parents recently emigrated
from Riga and the trauma of the Napoleonic Wars. Father is a music-
teacher and composer.
The Holst family have become acquainted with Henry Fuseli, Keeper
and Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy, enabling their
young protege, Theodor, to receive his first tuition. The President
of the Royal Academy, Sir Thomas Lawrence, gives 3gns. for a pencil-sketch
which he sees whilst the young Holst is copying from antique statues
in the British Museum. Lawrence is later criticised, in Holst's
Art-Union obituary, for leading Holst astray with his commission
of erotic drawings for George IV.
Holst becomes a student at the Royal Academy and continues to
be a favourite pupil of Fuseli until the latter's death the following
year. He continues his association with Sir Thomas Lawrence and
frequently visits his studio which gives him access to Lawrence's
magnificent collection of Old Master drawings.
William Blake dies. Holst exhibits first work at the Royal Academy,
Witches hastening to the Hartzgebirg, from Goethe's Faust
thus becoming the first English illustrator of this greatest of
German plays and his favourite literary source. A celebrated operatic
version had been staged, at Drury Lane, two years before which
inspired the visiting Delacroix to publish his influential series
of lithographs. These masterly and demonic designs may have deterred
the young Holst from continuing with his own series of illustrations
for Faust, which were to have been engraved by his friend
John Sartain. He now combines stylistic elements from Fuseli with
motifs from Rennaisance masters and the medievalism of the German
Romantics as the basis for his work; features much admired later
by Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites.
The sculptor Thomas Hughes exhibits a bust of Holst at the Royal
Society of British Artists gallery. Holst visits Germany and meets
the influential illustrator Moritz Retzsch in Dresden.
Deaths of Sir Thomas Lawrence and King George IV. Thomas Griffiths
Wainewright, friend and fellow Fuseli disciple insures the life
of his sister-in-law, Helen Abercrombie, one of Fuseli's models
for his Undine illustrations, and despatches her with strychnine.
The insurance companies become suspicious and Wainewright leaves
Becomes the first illustrator of Frankenstein with Colburn
and Bentley's Standard Novels edition, and produces further
book illustrations during the next few years. Edward Lytton Bulwer
becomes a patron, buying the large The Drinking Scene from
Faust, and later uses material gleaned from Holst, concerning
Wainewright, in his novel Lucretia, or The Children of Night.
Passage of the Reform Bill marks the division between the long
established aristocratic values of wealth, taste and patronage
and the reactionary rising middle-class entrepreneurs of pre-Victorian
England. The aim of the 'Grand Manner' gives way to that of 'domestic
Anna Jameson praises Holst in her Visits and Sketches at Home
and Abroad and Colburn and Bentley publish a frontispiece
by Holst for her Beauties of the Court of Charles II.
Accession of Queen Victoria. Wainewright returns to England, is
harboured by Holst and later arrested and tried for forgery on
the Bank of England. He is sentenced and transported 'for life'
to the Hobart penal colony, Tasmania. Holst enters his most prolific
period of painting, with not less than three pictures exhibited
at the major London exhibitions each year until his death.
The Treasure-seeker and Hero and Leander are both
hung so high on the walls at the Royal Academy Exhibition that
they could not be reviewed.
Awarded the British Institution prize of 50 guineas for The
Raising of Jairus' Daughter and sells The Wish at the
same exhibition to Lord Northwick, in whose collection it is admired
by Rossetti and later becomes the subject of his first published
poem The Card-Dealer. The Royal Manchester Association
for the Promotion of the Fine Arts awarded a prize of £26.5s.
for A German Tea Garden at Dresden. Marries his favourite model Amelia Thomasina Symmes Villard, aged 20, on 17th August at Marylebone but this previously inspiring muse then refuses to continue posing nude and becomes the opposite for the increasingly unhappy artist.
The Bride is purchased from the British Institution by
the Duchess of Sutherland and is later admired by Rossetti. The
Marquess of Lansdowne commissions a version for his celebrated
collection and also buys Spanish Lady at the R.A. the following
Dies 14th February, in London, from liver failure, whilst working
on a portrait of Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton. Funeral and untimely
death given sympathetic account by B.R.Haydon but William Bell
Scott comments that it saved Holst's jealous wife from using the
stilletto she was rumoured to keep for the purpose. Sale of remaining
works at Christies, 26th June.
Posthumous exhibition of A sketch from Zanoni at the British
Institution. The Raising of Jairus' Daughter is engraved
for Gems of European Art. Father, Matthias von Holst, dies
B.R. Haydon commits suicide. Bulwer Lytton publishes Lucretia,
or, The Children of Night, the novel woven around the infamous
Wainewright and the information gleaned from Holst about him.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti writes to Ford Madox-Brown of 'that great
painter Von Holst' and founds the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with
Millais, Holman Hunt and others who frequently meet at Campbell's
Scotch Stores restaurant, off Regent Street, because, according
to William Rossetti 'it was hung around with pictures by Theodore
Max Browne - extracted
Romantic Art of Theodor Von Holst)