IBBETSON, Julius Caesar
English Painter, 1759-1817
English painter, printmaker and writer. The son of a clothier, he was apprenticed to John Fletcher, a ship painter in Hull; in 1775 Ibbetson became a scene-painter there. In 1777 he moved to London, where he worked as a scene-painter and picture restorer. He married about three years later. From 1785 he exhibited landscapes, genre scenes and portraits at the Royal Academy. In 1787-8 Ibbetson was personal draughtsman to Col. Charles Cathcart on the first British Mission to Beijing, a voyage that included visits to Madeira, the Cape of Good Hope and Java. His watercolour False Bay, Cape of Good Hope (London, V&A), made on this journey, shows a picturesque roughness of foliage and rustic staffage adapted from his English landscape style. Cathcart's death forced Ibbetson to return to England (he exhibited an oil painting, untraced, of the Burial of Col. Cathcart in Java at the Royal Academy in 1789); thereafter he lived by painting landscape oils and watercolours, the subjects culled from his frequent tours. He painted occasional portraits throughout his career (e.g. Young Man, 1790; Leeds, Temple Newsam House) and contributed to John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery (e.g. Scene from 'The Taming of the Shrew', untraced, see Waterhouse, p. 192). In 1789 he stayed with John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute, at Cardiff Castle and visited the Isle of Wight in 1790. In 1792 he toured Wales and the surrounding area with the painter John 'Warwick' Smith and his companion Robert Fulke Greville, resulting in the publication of his book of engravings, A Picturesque Guide (1793). His oil painting of Aberglasyn: The Flash of Lightning (Leeds, C.A.G.) evokes the sublimity of the mountainous Welsh terrain; the drama of the storm over Aberglasyn is conveyed by thick impasto and strong chiaroscuro, a way of handling paint that Ibbetson learnt from copying 17th-century Dutch masters while working for a London dealer named Clarke during the late 1770s and early 1780s.