He spent whole summer days, in company with the ill-fated Haydon, in drawing the quiet cottages, rustic bridges and romantic watermills of the beautiful valleys of Devon. He even made a journey through Cornwall to try his hand in furnishing sketches for Britton's Beauties of England. On his removal in 1803 to London, which became his headquarters after 1812, a new scene of activity opened up before Prout. He now endeavoured to correct and improve his style by the study of the works of the rising school of landscape. To gain a living he painted marine pieces for Palser the printseller, received pupils, and published many drawing books for learners. He was likewise one of the first who turned to account in his profession the newly-invented art of lithography.
It was not however until about 1818 that Prout discovered his proper sphere. Happening at that time to make his first visit to the Continent, and to study the quaint streets and market-places of continental cities, he suddenly found himself in a new and enchanting province of art. All his faculties, having found their congenial element, sprung into unwonted power and activity. His eye readily caught the picturesque features of the architecture, and his hand recorded them with unsurpassed felicity and fine selection of line. The composition of his drawings was exquisitely natural; their colour exhibited "the truest and happiest association in sun and shade"; the picturesque remnants of ancient architecture were rendered with the happiest breadth and largeness, with the heartiest perception and enjoyment of their time-worn ruggedness; and the solemnity of great cathedrals was brought out with striking effect. At the time of his death there was scarcely a nook in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands where his quiet, benevolent, observant face had not been seen searching for antique gables and sculptured pieces of stone. In Venice especially there was hardly a pillar which his eye had not lovingly studied and his pencil had not dexterously copied.
See a memoir of Prout, by John Ruskin, in Art Journal for 1849, and the same author's Notes on the Fine Art Society's Loan Collection of Drawings by Samuel Prout and William hunt (1879-1880).
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.