Born in Norfolk, the artist was educated at Plymouth Grammar School where he received informal drawing lessons from the school's headmaster, Dr John Bidlake. He moved to London in 1802 to join John Britton (the antiquary), also making a tour of Devon and Cornwall making drawings which were to prove unsatisfactory for Britton's purposes.
His visits to Cornwall were recorded in 1802, 1806, and in the 1830s through the paintings and drawings that he produced. Until 1818 his primary exhibition subjects were of West Country architecture, coastal scenes and shipping. His great interest was architecture and detail of both man-made and natural lines of the environment. From 1819 his work reflected new interests after his first visit to the Continent, in the picturesque streets, market places and people of old French towns.
Later he also painted in Belgium, Germany and Italy. He was much praised by John Ruskin with the statement 'There is no stone drawing, no vitality of architecture like Prout's'. He died in London following a birthday party given for that critic and art historian.
Painter in watercolours of architectural subjects, draughtsman and writer
works and access
Prout's work can be found in the following publications: Beauties of England and Wales (1803-14); Antiquarian and Topographical Cabinet (1809); Rudiments of Landscape in Progressive Studies (1813); Rudiments (1814); The New British Traveller (1819); New Drawing Book (1819); Series of Easy Lessons in Landscape Drawing (1819); Views of Cottages (1819); Excursions in the County of Kent (1822); Illustrations of the Rhine (1824); The Tourist in Italy (1831); Jenning's Landscape Annual (1831); The Continental Annual (1832); Facsimiles of Sketches made in Flanders and Germany (1833); Hints (1834); Sketches in France, Switzerland and Italy (1839); The Shores and Islands of The Mediterranean Drawn From Nature (c1840); Microcosm (1841); Sketches at Home and Abroad (1844); Rhymes and Roundelayes (1850)
Access to Work: Accrington; Bolton; Bristol; Burnley; Bury; Exeter; Guildhall (London); Haworth; Leeds; Liverpool(University); Courtauld Institute, London (18); Maidstone; Manchester; Manchester (Whitworth); Tate (4 works, 9 attr); V&A (many); Wolverhampton; Denver; Indianapolis; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
In Cornwall: Penzance (Morrab Library); RCM, Truro (Launceston Castle, oil on canvas)
Associated Artists in Watercolours; OWS
Martin Hardie Vol III passim
J Holmes Artistic Tradition
Public Catalogue Foundation (2007) Cornwall & Isles of Scilly: Oil Paintings in Public Ownership
J Ruskin Modern Painters;
C Wood Victorian Artists