Samuel Prout (17831852)

Painter, best known for his picturesque views of architectural subjects, primarily in the form of drawings, watercolors, oils, and prints. Prout was a personal friend of the Ruskin family, and it is easy to imagine why. Besides his evidently engaging personality, and the artistic interests that he shared with the family, Proutʼs religious biography paralleled that of the Ruskins, having been born into a Dissenter family (Congregationalist) and migrated to the Established Church. His persistently poor health would have drawn the sympathy of the Ruskins, who themselves tended to be preoccupied with ailments (see Lockett, ?Samuel Prout, 18–20).
Even before this personal friendship developed, Proutʼs work held an affectionate place in the Herne Hill household, a Prout drawing, An English Cottage, having been “bought, I believe, by my grandfather”, Ruskin wrote in 1879, and “hung in the corner of our little dining parlour . . . as early as I can remember”, exercising “a most fateful and continual power over my childish mind”, The watercolor drawing in fact depicted a cottage near Bridge End in Perth, explaining the provenance reaching back to Ruskinʼs grandfather (Ruskin, Works, 14: 385; and see Hewison, “Father and Son”, 3; and Dearden, Ruskin, Bembridge, and Brantwood, 185).
In the front of Proutʼs 1833 volume of lithographs, Prout, Facsimiles of Sketches Made in Flanders and Germany, John James Ruskin is listed as a subscriber along with numerous nobility and prominent persons, a position that must have made John James proud. The story in Praeterita that the familyʼs acquisition of this volume in Spring 1833 prompted their Tour of 1833 requires contextualization, but Ruskinʼs many admiring accounts of Prout over the years, although changing in tone and emphasis along with Ruskinʼs interests, seem always to revolve around verifiable truths about these early associations with the artist (see Account of a Tour on the Continent: Discussion).
An adventurous traveler, Prout drew his scenes for the Facsimiles as well as for the earlier Illustrations of the Rhine (182226) from visits to parts of the Continent that were then largely unexplored by English artists. His 1821 itinerary through northern France, Belgium, and Germany resembles the tour taken later by the Ruskins (see Tour of 1833). Other tours of the 1820s are likewise reflected in views drawn later for the Facsimiles: in 1822, Ypres, Ghent, Malines, Antwerp, Utrecht; in 1823, Frankfurt, Würzburg, Nuremberg, Regensburg, Munich, Augsburg, Ulm, Strasbourg, Basle, Metz, Trier; in 1824, an Italian tour (with probable returns to Italy later in the decade); and in 1829, Frankfurt, Würzburg, Bamberg, Karlsbad, Prague, and Dresden (Lockett, Samuel Prout, 53–55). In some cases, therefore, many years separated initial on‐site sketches and the lithographs presented in the Facsimiles, although in the interim Prout exhibited watercolors based on these tours.
Along with his pioneering destinations for sketching tours, Prout was significant for exploring new media. Having developed his skills as a lithographer throughout the 1820s, Prout “could claim to have been the first important lithographic artist in England” (Lockett, Samuel Prout, 45). This mastery was first cultivated through association with Rudolf Ackermann (17641834), whose many entrepreneurial innovations included helping to introduce lithography to Britain. An early lithographic project was Proutʼs Hints on Light and Shadow (1838), which linked Ackermannʼs sponsorship of the new medium to the firmʼs founding mission of art instruction and the manufacture of art materials (Ford, Ackermann, 103, and see 21–28). Likewise, the novelty of the Illustrations of the Rhine as well as the Facsimiles lay partly in the lithographic medium, even as late as the 1830s. David Robertsʼs (17961864) lithographic views of the Holy Land, for example, lay a decade in the future. Already by 1823, Ackermann was turning over Proutʼs and other artistsʼ lithographic projects to Charles Hullmandel (17891850) for printing, as Ackermann could not maintain quality along with supporting other projects, such as the mass production of Britainʼs first successful annual, Forget Me Not (Ford, Ackermann, 64; and see Friendshipʼs Offering).
For the Ruskins in 1833, the dramatic size (22 by 15 inches) of Proutʼs lithographic prints, combined with the delicate watercolor‐like effects, must have formed a striking contrast with the intaglio engraved landscape scenes that the young Ruskin encountered in the small formats of the illustrated literary annuals or the 1830 illustrated edition of Italy by Samuel Rogers (17631855). Proutʼs Facsimiles was produced by Hullmandel, 300 copies being printed on gray paper, which sold for 5 guineas, and 150 copies on India paper, which sold for 6 guineas (Lockett, Samuel Prout, 74).
Prout was also familiar to a wide public through the medium of line engraving on steel, appearing frequently in the literary annuals. Between 1827 and 1830 (i.e., published from late 1826 to late 1829), a half‐dozen of his drawings of better‐known Continental scenes (mostly in Italy), both interiors and monuments and more expansive city views, were engraved for the earliest established of the British annuals, Ackermannʼs Forget Me Not (see the index of artists in Harris, ed., “Forget Me Not” Archive).Lockett mistakenly attributes the Forget Me Not for 1826 to Proutʼs illustration (Lockett, Samuel Prout, 77).

Lockett lists several other annuals that published Proutʼs views, most importantly the first two volumes in the series, The Landscape Annual published by Robert Jennings for 1830 and for 1831 (i.e., available in late 1829 and late 1830, respectively), which showcased Prout exclusively. These engravings anticipated the Swiss and Italian views that would be lithographed for the 1839 Sketches in France, Switzerland, and Italy (Lockett, Samuel Prout, 77–80, 175).Lockett remarks that the third Landscape Annual (for 1832) would have allowed Prout to complete use of his sketches from his 1824 Italian tour, but that the commission was taken from him by J. D. Harding (17971863), causing a rift between the two artists (Lockett, Samuel Prout, 79).

Despite his popularity as an illustrator of the engraved annuals, Prout played third fiddle as a contributor to the 1830 illustrated edition of Italy by Samuel Rogers (1763–1855), scarcely credited by the poet even for his few drawings (see Herrmann, Turner's Prints, 183).
Exploiting Proutʼs reputation for exploring exotic corners of Europe, a latecomer to the annuals market, The Continental Annual, and Romantic Cabinet, for 1832, published by Smith, Elder, sought to distinguish itself from “a class of periodicals” that “present too uniform a resemblance to each other”: “the wish to give all the effect in our power to the graphic designs of Mr. Prout, has induced us to draw upon the resources of natives of the countries that supply the scenes illustrated”, by drawing on traditional “Romantic narratives” of “German, French, Dutch, Italian, and even Danish genius,” as well as commissioning original narratives by an “accomplished foreigner” (Kennedy, ed., Continental Annual, v, vi; and see Annuals and Other Illustrated Books: The Landscape Annual). The locales of Proutʼs drawings engraved for the volume—Antwerp, Igel, Brussels, Ghent, Nuremberg, Metz, Treves, Dresden, Como, Padua, Prague, Rouen, and Caen— while anticipating the tour that forms the Facsimiles published the following year, are exhibited in entirely different scenes than those shown in the lithographs (with the exception of the Igel plate, which depicts a subject almost identical to Roman Pillar at Igel in Facsimiles).
In the Facsimiles, the lithographs are ordered as follows. For reference, the prints are identified in some commonly available sources, Holme, ed., Sketches by Samuel Prout, or Lockett, Samuel Prout:
  • “Hotel de Ville Brussels” (Holme, pl. 12)
  • “Ghent” (Holme, pl. 14; Lockett, fig. 26)
  • “La Halle Bruges” (Holme, pl. 13)
  • “Maline” (i.e., Mechelen; Holme, pl. 17)
  • “Kraen Strate Maline” (Holme, pl. 16)
  • “Antwerp” (Holme, pl. 11)
  • “Hotel de Ville Utrecht” (Holme, pl. 20)
  • “Tournay” (Holme, pl. 19; related drawing, Lockett, fig. 25)
  • “Louvain” (Holme, pl. 15)
  • “Palais du Prince Liege” (Holme, pl. 18)
  • “Cologne”
  • “Hotel de Ville, Cologne”
  • “On the Walls, Cologne”
  • “At Cologne” (Holme, pl. 21)
  • “Near Godesberg”
  • “At Braubach on the Rhine” (Holme, pl. 25)
  • “Coblence” (Holme, pl. 23)
  • “Chateau de Martinsbourg Mayence”
  • “Cathedral of Mayence”(Holme, pl. 26)
  • “Andernach” (Holme, pl. 22)
  • “Roman Pillar at Igel” (Holme, pl. 24)
  • “Dome Francfort” (Holme, pl. 28)
  • “Sachsenhausen Francfort” (Holme, pl. 27)
  • “Castle at Heidelberg”
  • “Basle” (Holme, pl. 59)
  • “Ratisbonne Cathedral” (Holme, pl. 35; related drawing, Lockett, cat. 51)
  • “At Ratisbonne”
  • “Ratisbonne” (Holme, pl. 36)
  • “Bamberg” (Holme, pl. 31)
  • “Ancien Palais Bamberg” (Holme, pl. 32)
  • “Wurtzburg” (Holme, pl. 29)
  • “Wurtzburg” (Holme, pl. 30)
  • “Nuremberg” (Holme, pl. 33)
  • “Nuremberg” (Holme, pl. 34)
  • “Augsberg” (Holme, pl. 37)
  • “Strasbourg” (Holme, pl. 9)
  • “St Omer Strasbourg” (Holme, pl. 10)
  • “Rat Haus Ulm” (Holme, pl. 38)
  • “Munich” (Holme, pl. 39; related drawing, Lockett, fig. 24)
  • “Prague” (Holme, pl. 45)
  • “Hotel de Ville Prague” (Holme, pl. 47)
  • “Thein Church Prague” (Holme, pl. 49)
  • “Prague” (Holme, pl. 46)
  • “St Nicholas Prague” (Holme, pl. 48)
  • “Dresden” (Holme, pl. 44)
  • “Zwinger Palace Dresden” (Holme, pl. 42; related drawing, Lockett, cat. 55)
  • “Dresden” (Holme, pl. 43)
  • “Zwinger Palace Dresden” (Holme, pl. 41)
  • “Dresden”
  • “Hotel de Ville Brunswick” (pl. 40)
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