J. E. Hodgson was born in London but spent much of his youth in Russia. Though trained to work in the family business (a counting house), after reading Ruskin's Modern Painters the lure of art was strong enough that he determined to become a painter. Hodgson entered the RA Schools, and one of his first exhibited works at the RA was The First Sight of the Armada. Historical subjects were his main output until 1869, when a visit to Africa converted him to Orientalist paintings. He became ARA in 1873, and RA in 1879.
An illustration by J. E. Hodgson.
Hodgson had literary leanings, and became Librarian of the Royal Academy. He wrote articles, including a series for the Magazine of Art (1889) which contain many interesting observations, for example on the teaching of art students. He also, together with Eaton, Secretary of the Academy, wrote up the history of the RA for the Art Journal, in a rather witty and remarkably unpartisan way.Orientalist painters // Other artists