George Hanmer Croughton was born to Thomas Hanmer and Ann Swinyard Croughton in Lowestoft, England on April 14, 1843. His drawing skills were displayed at a young age and earned him admission to the prestigious National School of Art as a teenager. He later studied at the Royal Academy under the instruction of famed landscape painter Thomas Sidney Cooper. After completing his training, he became an itinerant painter and sketch artist, touring throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland. In September 1865, he married Charlotte Morgan at Bath, and together the couple raised a large family consisting of five daughters and one son. Mr. Croughton quickly became an outspoken advocate of utilizing photography as a legitimate and powerful art form, and published several articles on the subject in the British Journal of Photography and the Photographic News. He also delivered several important lectures on the art of photography at several photographic societies in Great Britain and abroad.
After settling in London, Mr. Croughton became employed by the Southwell Brothers, whose specialty was royal portrait photography. Shortly thereafter, he was commissioned to paint portraits of Queen Victoria, and later King Edward VII. He also painted the final portrait of Napoleon III before the exiled French President's death in January 1873. For his ivory miniatures, he was awarded a first-class medal by the Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society, and achieved increasing prominence for his crayon sketches and dramatic use of color. Mr. Croughton opened a successful studio and his exhibits received top prizes at the South Kensington International Exhibition.
In 1876, Mr. Croughton traveled to America to receive awards at Philadelphia's high-profile Centennial Exhibition. This would be a life-changing journey as he established important professional contacts with world-class photographers. Seven years' later, his family make America their permanent home, living and working at various times in Philadelphia, Richmond, and New Orleans before settling in Rochester, New York. Mr. Croughton remained devoted to promoting the artistic value of photography internationally, and for his efforts was rewarded a lifetime membership into the Photographers' Association of America. He served as one of its convention judges for several years and was also deeply involved in local artistic societies, serving as treasurer of the Rochester Art Club and president of the Rochester Art League. In later years, he became a successful manufacturer of mail-order gaslight developing and gelatine matt (also known as gelatin matte) paper.
George Hanmer Croughton died after a long illness at his Rochester home on April 15, 1920, one day after his 77th birthday. One editorial described Mr. Croughton with a reverence befitting this early champion of photographic art: "He possessed the courage of his convictions, and had the will to conquer. In a word, though genial, he was combative and when convinced of the right, immovable."
1917 American Art Annual, Vol. XIII (London: M. Knoedler & Co.), p. 223.
1920 Bulletin of Photography, Vol. XXVI (Philadelphia: Frank V. Chambers ), pp. 399-400.
1920 Photo-Era: The Photographic Journal of America, Vol. XLVII (Philadelphia: Edward L. Wilson Company, Inc.), p. 231.
1883 The Photographic Times and American Photographer, Vol. XIII (New York: Scovill Manufacturing Company), p. 543.
1900 The St. Louis and Canadian Photographer, Vol. XXIV (St. Louis, MO: Mrs. Fitzgibbon-Clark), pp. 281, 685.
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