Thomas Hartley CROMEK

London 1809 - Wakefield 1873


Much of what is known today of Thomas Hartley Cromek’s life and career is based on a journal he wrote, entitled Reminiscences at Home and Abroad, 1812-1855, which only came to light in the latter half of the 20th century. (The manuscript remains unpublished, and is in the possession of one of the artist’s descendants.) The son of an engraver and editor, Cromek was educated in Wakefield in Yorkshire, later completing his studies in Leeds. He first travelled to Italy in 1830, accompanying his mother to Florence and Rome, where she had gone for her health.

He was to spend much of the next twenty years living and working in Italy, mainly in Florence and Rome. He met and befriended several English artists, including Clarkson Stanfield and John Frederick Lewis, and gave drawing lessons to several distinguished English visitors, including, in November 1837, Edward Lear. Cromek made two trips to Greece, in 1834 and 1845. In 1849 he was forced to leave Rome by the outbreak of the First Italian War of Independence, and he returned to England for good. Cromek seems to have produced almost no paintings after 1860, as his health gradually failed, and he died in relative obscurity in Yorkshire.