April 4, 1758, London
d. Jan. 23, 1810, London
painter of the English portrait school during the late 18th and early
19th centuries who emulated the earlier style of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
His father was of German extraction, and his mother was one of the German
attendants at the royal palace. As a boy he was a chorister at the royal
chapel and in 1775 entered as a student at the Royal Academy. In 1778
he took a silver medal for life drawing, and in 1782 he won the Academy's
highest award, the gold medal for historical painting. He first exhibited
at the Royal Academy in 1780. His earliest interest was for landscape,
but necessity obliged him to turn to the more lucrative business of portrait
painting. At once successful, he had throughout life the most fashionable
and wealthy sitters and was the greatest rival of the king's painter,
Thomas Lawrence. The prince of Wales especially patronized him, and many
of his finest portraits are in the state apartments at St. James's Palace.
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