Samuel Howitt (1765?-1822), painter and etcher, a member of an old Nottinghamshire quaker family, was born about 1765. In early life he was in an independent position, and, residing at Chigwell, Epping Forest, devoted himself to field sports. Financial difficulties compelled him to turn to art as a profession. Coming to London, he was for a time a drawing master, and attended Dr. Goodenough's academy at Ealing.
In 1783 he exhibited with the Society of British Artists three 'stained drawings' of hunting subjects, and in 1785 first appeared at the Royal Academy, contributing two landscapes; in 1793 he sent 'Jaques and the Deer' and 'A Fox Hunt.' He worked both in oils and water-colors, confining himself to sporting subjects and illustrations of natural history, which are carefully drawn, very spirited and truthful.
Howitt was closely associated in his art with Rowlandson, whose sister he married, and his works frequently pass for those of his brother-in-law; but, unlike Rowlandson, he was a practical sportsman, and his incidents are more accurately delineated. He was a clever and industrious etcher, and published a great number of plates similar in character to his drawings, and delicately executed with a fine needle. He also produced a number of caricatures in the manner of Rowlandson.
It has been stated that Howitt visited India, but this is an error; his only eastern subjects were the drawings for Captain T. Williamson's 'Oriental Field Sports,' 1807, and these were worked up in England from sketches by Williamson. Other of his works are: 'Miscellaneous Etchings of Animals,' 50 plates, 1803; 'British Field Sports,' 20 coloured plates, 1807; 'The Angler's Manual,' with 12 plates, 1808; 'A New Work of Animals, principally designed from the Fables of Aesop, Gay, and Phaedrus,' 56 plates, 1811; 'Groups of Animals,' 24 plates, 1811; 'The British Sportsman,' 70 plates, 1812; and many of the drawings for 'Foreign Field Sports,' 1814.
After 1794 Howitt reappeared at the Royal Academy only in 1814 and 1815. He died in Somers Town in 1822. His great-granddaughter, Mrs. Samuel Hastings, possesses a large number of his works, and examples are in the print room of the British Museum and the South Kensington Museum.
[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760-1880; Universal Cat. of Books on Art; Reminiscences of Henry Angelo, 1830; Grego's Rowlandson; information from Rev. S. Hastings.]
Freeman Marius O'Donoghue, Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 28. pgs. 123-124.