Robert Mimpriss is recorded as a drawing master of New Road, Southampton in 1827 and 1828. Describing himself as a student of the Royal Academy, Mimpriss offered his services both to private pupils and to schools. Advertisements were headed "To the Admirers of Juvenile Talent, Parents, and those superintending the Education of Youth". He gave classes in Southampton, Winchester (which he attended every week) and Lymington. Exhibitions of his pupils' work were held at Henry Buchan's County of Hants Picture Gallery in the High Street, Southampton (eg 3 to 7 December 1827 and 31 May to 7 June 1828) and at the premises of Charles Coles, carver and gilder, in the Square, Winchester (eg 15-18 May 1828). He was a subscriber to Buchan's gallery when it first opened on 25 July 1827.

Mimpriss was an artist himself. A view of Southampton, from the water, drawn on stone by Mimpress and printed by the Soho firm of Engelmann, Graf, Coindet and Co, was published by Henry Buchan in 1827 (copy in Local Studies Library, Southampton Central Library: oversize illustrations, folder 6). A selection of his drawings were later lithographed by Louis Hague and published in Southampton by Fletcher and Sons, booksellers, stationers and printers of the High Street. An advertisement in the Hampshire Advertiser, 11 January 1834 offered for sale "16 picturesque views in Southampton and its vicinity, drawn on stone by L Haghe, from sketches by R Mimpriss": 8 shillings the set or 12 shillings on India paper. A selection of twelve engravings - drawn from nature by R Mimpriss, published by I Fletcher and headed Southampton scenery - is in Hampshire Archives and Local Studies (15M84/Z3/86). Hampshire Archives also has two engravings of Netley Abbey, drawn from nature and on stone by R Mimpriss, published by J Fletcher and printed by Engelmann & Co, London (TOP 230/2/119(L) and TOP 230/2/126(L)).

Robert Mimpriss is now known not as an artist or an art teacher but as a zealot in the cause of religious education. He devised what became known as the 'Mimpriss system of graduated simultaneous instruction' for use in Sunday schools. Gospel history was made into a seemless narrative, to be taught in one hundred lessons. The course was illustrated by tables, maps and charts, many drawn by Mimpriss himself. He promoted the scheme through extensive publications and a punishing schedule of lectures. He was also a proselytite in the causes of sabbatarianism, of millenarianism - a close ally here of John Wilson - and of teetotalism. He chaired a Temperance Society festival in Southampton in December 1836, sharing the duties with the Reverend Joseph Crabb.

Mimpriss was born in Deptford in July 1797, the son of a dockyard official. He was of Welsh ancestry, and, at the time of his marriage in November 1820 to Ann Nash of Newington Butts, was living in Pembrokeshire. Before becoming a drawing master in Southampton, Mimpriss had worked as a purser on board ship and as a clerk in a London merchant's office. In 1841, Mimpriss is found as a publisher and map engraver in Cheltenham. Marriage to a lady with private money originally gave him the opportunity to pursue his career untrammelled by financial worries, but by the 1860s he had overreached himself and on his death, in December 1875, had a personal estate of less than £300.

His brother, Thomas Roberts Mimpriss, was a well-known surgeon and apothecary in Clapham.

A View of Southampton from the Water

Image Unavailable

Drawn by Robert Mimpriss, 1827

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, Volume 38.


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