John Henry Frederick Bacon, ARA (1865-1914) John Henry Frederick Bacon was not only a painter of portraits and scenes of contemporary and historical genre, but also an accomplished illustrator, who was equally successful in black and white and colour. The second son of the well-known lithographer, John Cardanall Bacon, John Henry Frederick Bacon revealed his artistic talent at an early age. While still in his teens, he established himself as a black-and-white illustrator, and undertook a professional tour of India and Burma. He studied at Westminster School of Art, under Fred Brown, and at the Royal Academy Schools, winning the Creswick Prize for Landscape Painting in 1888. A year later, he began to exhibit regularly at the Royal Academy of Arts, and then showed portraits, genre scenes and history subjects widely in London and the provinces. He was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1903. Following their marriage in 1894, Bacon and his wife lived at Pillar House, Harwell, Berkshire (which was subsequently occupied by the illustrator, Leslie Brooke).
In 1899, they returned to London, and lived first at 3 Compayne Gardens, South Hampstead, and then, from 1902, at 33 St John’s Wood Road. During the 1890s, Bacon developed as an illustrator, working on books and contributing to periodicals, including The Girl’s Own Paper (1890-1900) and Black & White (1891-96). As described by Peppin and Micklethwait, ‘he worked in pen and ink and halftone, and, as he became better known, in full colour. His early illustrations were typical of their period, but as time went on, he tended to depict figures in increasingly exaggerated poses’ (Peppin and Mickelthwait 1983, page 25). He contributed to some significant standard editions of the works of Charles Dickens, including Dombey and Son, Little Dorrit and Martin Chuzzlewit for Gresham’s Imperial Edition of 1901. Bacon’s images helped construct perceptions of nation and empire, as in his most famous paintings – The City of London Imperial Vounteers Return to London from South Africa (1900, Guildhall) and the Coronation Portrait of King George V and Queen Mary (1912, Buckingham Palace) – and his colour plates to Charles Squire’s Celtic Myth and Legend (1912). He was awarded the Royal Victorian Order in 1913. Bacon died in London on 24 January 1914 of acute bronchitis. His studio sale was held in the same year at Christie’s on 27 April. His work is represented in numerous public collections, including the Guildhall (Hull).