A Century of British Painters

By Samuel Redgrave; Richard Redgrave | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVI
PORTRAIT PAINTERS--PICKERSGILL, BOXALL,
GRANT, KNIGHT, MACNEE, HOLL

WE will in this chapter return to our practice of dealing with one branch of art at a time, and we will give a brief notice of the portrait painters who, since the death of those whom we have classed as contemporaries of Lawrence, have added lustre to this branch of the profession in England. In doing this, though the chronological order of painters is somewhat violated, we have followed the most satisfactory arrangement, and keeping to our fixed purpose, we will only mention those whose art we consider to have had an effect upon the art of the time, and whose work will live, from its own excellence, as well as by the interesting characters it has been called upon to depict.

Henry William Pickersgill, R.A., was a portrait painter whose works are distinguished more by their being satisfactory likenesses than for any artistic qualities they possess. Still, he was at one time the fashionable portrait painter of the day, and he was called upon to paint all the celebrated people of his time. He was elected an associate in 1822, and an academician in 1826. There is a half-length portrait of Mr. Vernon by him in the National Gallery, in a puce dressinggown, holding a small spaniel on his knee. It is a tame portrait, without individuality. Pickersgill's fame may be said to have departed during his lifetime. He was born 3 December 1782, and died 21 April 1875, aged ninety-three years.

The portraits of Sir William Boxall, R.A., claim a much higher place in our regard. Boxall was born at Oxford, 23 January 1800, and became a student of the Royal Academy in 1819. In 1827 he started for Italy, where he remained three years, and on his return exhibited a subject picture, ' Milton's Reconciliation with his Wife'. Nevertheless his bent was for portrait painting, and he devoted himself to it during many years. His colouring was rich and harmonious, and he was fastidious and careful in his method of work. This very overscrupulousness sometimes marred the effect of his pictures and made him a very uneven painter. He was elected an A.R.A. in 1851, and an academician in 1863, in which year he painted his really admirable portrait of John Gibson, R.A., which he presented to the Academy as

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