John Robert Parsons was a figure and portrait painter, photographer, and art dealer. He was a relative of the author Thomas Keightley (1789-1872).
In the 1850s and 1860s Parsons was a portrait painter of some distinction. He later turned to picture dealing. He was a friend of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Charles Augustus Howell. JW's patron F. R. Leyland sat to him for a photograph. In 1883 he exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery.
In 1871/72 Parsons took a photograph of Arrangement in Grey and Black: Portrait of the Painter's Mother (YMSM 101) for JW. However, there was some confusion as Parsons printed 88 copies, a number for which JW declared he never asked (#07906). Parsons took several other photograhs for JW (#08794) and at JW's bankruptcy in May 1879 he was owed £14.16.6 (#12080).
Rossetti, William Michael, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. His Family-Letters with a Memoir, London, 1895, II, pp. 254, 265; Annual Register, London, 1909, p. 112; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Pritchard, Michael, A Directory of London Photographers 1841-1908, London, 1964-94; Doughty, Oswald, and John Robert Wahl (ed.), Letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Oxford, 1965-7; Cline, C. L., The Owl and the Rossettis: Letters of Charles A. Howell and Dante Gabriel, Christina and William Michael Rossetti, London, 1978; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, The Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1880; Young, Andrew McLaren, Margaret F. MacDonald, Robin Spencer and Hamish Miles, The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler, New Haven and London, 1980; Maas, Jeremy, The Victorian Art World in Photographs, London, 1984, pl. 323, 803.