Horsley, John Callcott (British, 1817-1903)

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John Callcott Horsley (1817-1903) was an English Academic painter of genre and historical scenes. The artist is also famous for being the designer of the first Christmas card in the 1840s.

Horsley was born in London, where he was educated at the Royal Academy of the Arts. Initially, Horsley began his career as a portrait artist, but later expanded his repertoire to encompass landscapes and imagined historical scenes. Horsley’s style was heavily influenced by 17th Century Dutch painting, which proved immensely popular with his 19th Century audience. With fellow artists Thomas Webster, G. B. O'Neill and F. D. Hardy, Horsley formed the Cranbrook colony, meeting every summer to paint in the village of Cranbrook in Kent.

From 1875-1890 and 1892-1897, Horsley was rector and treasurer of the Royal Academy. In this role, he campaigned against French influences and the use of nude female models, which earnt him the nickname 'Clothes Horsley'.