George Frederick Prosser (1805-1882)

George Frederick Prosser

George Frederick Prosser was born in London and spent the first part of his working life in Camberwell and Guildford, Surrey where he was known as an author of topographical views. He shared a business with his brother Henry, who remained in Guildford and managed a shop dealing in artists' materials, and published occasional lithographs.

One of Prosser's early works was a prestigious volume 'Select Illustrations of Hampshire Comprising Picturesque Views of the Seats of the Nobility & Gentry' (published 1833), for which the money was raised by subscription from the owners of the houses. During his work on this volume Prosser met Sir William Heathcote of Hursley Park near Winchester, a public benefactor and co-founder of the Royal County Hospital. It was feature of Prosser's book that as well as the large houses, rectories and estate lodges were also illustrated. But the number of surviving drawings of Hursley Park indicate the personal interest that Sir William Heathcote took in Prosser's work. Sir William acquired 24 drawings and at least 30 are known of Hursley Park and Merdon Castle, only some of which seem to have been intended for publication.

By 1852 Prosser had moved to Winchester and in 1854 he advertised his business in Gilmour's Almanack. He lived and worked at 80 High Street, close to the Westgate, where he also gave lessons in drawings. Many of the watercolours of Winchester date from the 1850s to 70s and afford a comprehensive cover of the historical buildings along with street scenes and landscapes. Not all of his works are signed and sometimes confusion of attribution can occur with those paintings of his son G.F. Prosser. Prosser junior had been born in Upton Grey, Hampshire in 1835 and for a short while practiced as a bookseller at 87 High Street, Winchester before moving to Hackney, Middlesex in about 1860.

Prosser died in August 1882 and his obituary, published in the Hampshire chronicle on the 26th August reads as follows: On Thursday after a short illness, at St John's, Winchester, G.F.E. Prosser, Artist, and many years an inhabitant of Winchester in his 78th year. Death of an old inhabitant - We regret to announce the death of Mr G.F.E. Prosser who was for many years a resident of this city, as an artist in watercolours he may be remembered by most of the old residents as having been of our first artists in sketching nature. His first work was a descriptive account with numerous views of the old St Giles' church, Camberwell, London, which was destroyed by fire during the Vicarship of the Reverend John George Storee and to whom it was dedicated. He was author and publisher of the Principal Seats in Hampshire and Surrey. The deceased artist was honoured by the support of royalty and the principal nobility, clergy, and gentry in these counties, and it is sad to hear that he has left a widow, aged 75 unprovided for.

Prosser married Lydia Christmas on the 28th December 1829 and they had five children.