Nathaniel Hone “the Younger” (Dublin, 1831 – 1917) was a member of a wealthy landed family with artistic propensities, and was the great grand-nephew of another Nathaniel Hone (“the Elder”), who lived from 1718 to 1784.
After studying as an engineer at Trinity College, Hone worked for a time on the Midland Great Western Railway and then considered emigration to South America. Instead, in the early 1850s, he opted to study art in Paris, thus trailblazing a route to the French capital that other Irish artists were to follow later in the century. He initially studied under Adolphe Yvon and found accommodation for himself at 3, rue de Fleurus (6th arrondissement). In 1854, Hone dropped Yvon for Thomas Couture, who at this time was teaching in a ground-floor atelier situated at his home at 17 rue de la Rochefoucauld (9th arrondissement) as well as at nearby 28, rue Fontaine. Claims that Hone (together with Edouard Manet) studied with Couture at a studio in rue Victor Massé (then called rue Laval, 9th arrondissement) are imprecise and cannot be verified.
| 3, rue Fleurus
|| 10, rue des Saints Pères|
By 1856, Hone was working out of a studio at 10, rue des Saints Pères (6th arrondissement), but was also visiting the artist colony being established at Barbizon, in the forest of Fontainebleau. Hone settled in Barbizon in 1857 but by 1863 had moved to the southern edge of the forest, to the Auberge du Sabot Rouge at 37, rue Mürger in Bourron-Marlotte, where a smaller artist colony had been founded—frequented, among others, by Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Claude Monet. Later, the artist was also to give his address as 1201, La Mare-aux-Fées, lisière du Bois (edge of the wood) in Bourron. In his 13-year stay in the forest of Fontainebleau, apart from regular members of the Bourron-Marlotte colony, Hone met many of the great French artists of the time, including Jean-Baptiste Corot, Jean-François Millet, Théodore Rousseau and Gustave Courbet.
| The former Auberge du Sabot Rouge|
Hone travelled extensively around France during the 1860s, while exhibiting frequently in Paris. During his Paris sojourns in the late 1860s, he appears to have stayed with fellow artist Jacques-Emile Edouard Brandon at 44, rue du Notre Dame de Lorette (9th arrondissement, building no longer exists) in the Nouvelle Athènes district, an area of Paris much favoured by artists before the rise of Montmartre at the end of the 19th century.
Hone was in Italy when the Franco-Prussian war broke out in July 1870. When he came back to his lodgings in Bourron-Marlotte after the war, he found that it had been requisitioned by the Prussians. Many of Hone’s belongings had vanished, and other items had been damaged, including a canvas that had been pierced by a bayonet. Hone decided to return to Ireland and married Magdalen Jameson of the famous family of distillers in 1872. Back home, he continued to paint while also fulfilling the role of gentleman-farmer on the family estate in Malahide and helping to set up the Malahide Golf Club. However, he made frequent excursions abroad, including at least one visit to Paris in 1887.
| Nathaniel Hone, by Jacques-Emile Brandon|
Hone had the misfortune of living on the cusp of the Impressionist revolution in painting, but never really participated in it. In the words of Brian Fallon, “impressionism changed the whole tonality and colour key of painting, making Hone’s palette look murky and dull, even monochrome.” Yet his star has risen in recent years, with some of his nature paintings fetching prices well into five figures during the late-lamented (?) Celtic Tiger years.
Four Irish landscape painters (1920)
The Irish Impressionists—Irish artists in France and Belgium, 1850-1914 (1984)