SummaryJohn Calcott Horsley was the nephew of the landscape painter Augustus Wall Callcott and was educated at the Royal Academy. The famous Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel was Horsley's brother-in-law.
Horsley began his career as a portrait artist but later painted frescoes for the Houses of Parliament. His style was influenced by 17th century Dutch painting. In the 1840s Horsley is credited with designing the first Christmas card, setting off a tradition we still follow today.
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 Horsley was rector of the Royal Academy, where he campaigned against French influences and the use of nude female models. This earnt him the nickname 'Clothes Horsley'.