Portrait of John Theodore Heins (Heine) 1697-1756 artist painter Norwich Norfolk
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John Theodore Heins
Portrait Painter, Norwich


The artist John Theodore Heins was not a relation of mine however I have an interest in him as he painted an excellent portrait of my great x6 grandfather Robert Crowe.  His style of painting shows detail of an exceptionally high quality.  The face of the portrait is very formal and has been painted so carefully that the result is more like a photograph rather than a painting.  Even under a magnifying glass it is difficult to see the brush strokes.  I have tried to find out more about Heins the painter but there is little on the internet so I thought it might be worth while creating a page with what information I have been able to find out so far.  He does not appear to have had a biography written about him but he is mentioned in a few books and a summary would be as follows:

Heins appears to have originated in Germany but moved to the UK and settled in Norwich around 1720.  King George I who ascended to the crown in 1714 was from Hanover.  I understand that George I did not spend a lot of time in the UK however during his reign there were a number of immigrants arriving here from Hanover and perhaps John Theodore Heins was one such person.  Tracing his early days is rather difficult partly because he seems to have gone under a number of different names including Dietrich and Dirck.  

From 1720 to his death in 1756, Heins built up a fine reputation as a portrait painter and painted many members of prominent Norfolk families right up to his last year.  He was commissioned in 1732 to paint a portrait of the Mayor of Norwich, Francis Arnam and also the previous year's Mayor Robert Marsh.  After this Heins received regular commissions to paint Mayors and other civil dignitaries.  By far the majority of his sitters are residents in Norfolk but he also painted people living in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.  The only other place where he may have painted is Devon where he possibly painted Mr Gerard Hartopp Govenor of Plymouth, painting dated 1752 (or did the sitter visit Norwich?).  There also exists a collection of portraits of the Enys family who lived near Penryn in Cornwall (John Enys Sheriff for Cornwall, Samuel Enys, Lucy Enys nee Bassett, her sister Mrs Archer, John Enys Anne Enys nee Gregor).  The Enys family portraits were sold by Bonhams 20 Sept 2008.  None were attributed to Heins and the dates of some of the sitters could be a bit late (but they certainly all look like his work despite being in need of a good clean).

There are many examples of his portraits in Museums and examples also occasionally turn up for sale at some of the major auction houses.  One notable characteristic is that they often have an oval painted onto the canvas to help frame the sitter.  Prices vary from

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