Henry William Pickersgill

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Henry William Pickersgill
Henry William Pickersgill 1860s.jpg
Henry William Pickersgill in the 1860s
Born3 December 1782
London, England
Died21 April 1875 (aged 92)
ResidenceFrance; Villa Abd-el-Tif, Algiers
Education École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris
Known forPainter of portraits
Movement Orientalist

Henry William Pickersgill RA (3 December 1782 – 21 April 1875) was an English painter specialising in portraits. He was a Royal Academician for almost fifty years, and painted many of the most notable figures of his time.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.



Born in London, Pickersgill was adopted in his youth by a Mr Hall, a silk manufacturer in Spitalfields, [1] who financed his schooling and then took him into the family business. When war caused difficult trading conditions, Pickersgill opted to develop his talent for painting into a career, and was a pupil of landscape artist George Arnald between 1802–1805 before entering the Royal Academy Schools as a student in November 1805. [2] [3]

Spitalfields area in the East End of London

Spitalfields is a district in the East End of London and within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The area is formed around Commercial Street and includes the locale around Brick Lane, Christ Church, Toynbee Hall and Commercial Tavern. It has several markets, including Spitalfields Market, the historic Old Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane Market and Petticoat Lane Market. It was part of the ancient parish of Stepney in the county of Middlesex and was split off as a separate parish in 1729. Just outside the City of London, the parish became part of the Metropolitan Board of Works area in 1855 as part of the Whitechapel District. It formed part of the County of London from 1889 and was part of the Metropolitan Borough of Stepney from 1900. It was abolished as a civil parish in 1921.

George Arnald British artist

George Arnald was a British painter who specialised in landscapes, including topographical views to illustrated county histories. He is best known for his celebrated painting depicting the Battle of the Nile.

James Silk Buckingham and his Wife in Arab Dress, 1816 Henry William Pickersgill 001.jpg
James Silk Buckingham and his Wife in Arab Dress, 1816

His early subjects were varied and included landscapes and classical and historical themes, but he eventually settled to portraiture as his speciality. His first exhibit at the Royal Academy was a portrait of his benefactor Mr Hall, [2] and during his lifetime he showed a total of 384 paintings there. [4] He was elected to associate membership of the Academy in November 1822 and full membership in February 1826. [3]

Pickersgill was one of the pre-eminent portrait painters of his day. Robert Peel, William Wordsworth, George Stephenson, Jeremy Bentham, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington and Faraday were among the many notable people who sat for him. He famously painted author James Silk Buckingham and his wife Elizabeth in Arab costume in 1816, reflecting Buckingham's own travels in the East as well as the fashion of the times for the Orient. The National Portrait Gallery, London has over 50 of his portraits in its collection, including 16 original oils and 35 engravings after him, [5] along with a small number of portraits of Pickersgill himself by others. [6]

Robert Peel British Conservative statesman

Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, was a British Conservative statesman who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and twice as Home Secretary. He is regarded as the father of modern British policing, owing to his founding of the Metropolitan Police Service. Peel was one of the founders of the modern Conservative Party.

William Wordsworth English Romantic poet

William Wordsworth was an English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads (1798).

George Stephenson English civil engineer and mechanical engineer

George Stephenson was an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer. Renowned as the "Father of Railways", Stephenson was considered by the Victorians a great example of diligent application and thirst for improvement. Self-help advocate Samuel Smiles particularly praised his achievements. His chosen rail gauge, sometimes called 'Stephenson gauge', was the basis for the 4 feet 8 12 inches (1,435 mm) standard gauge used by most of the world's railways.

From 1856–64 he was librarian of the Royal Academy. [3] He retired from the institution in December 1872, and died at his home in Blandford Square, London [7] at the age of 93. [3]

Pickersgill's brother Richard, son Henry Hall and nephew Frederick Richard were also painters. His wife Jeanette published a volume of poetry in 1827 entitled Tales of the Harem. [4] After her death in 1885, Mrs Pickersgill became the first person to be legally cremated in the United Kingdom at Woking Crematorium. [8]

Frederick Richard Pickersgill British artist

Frederick Richard Pickersgill was an English painter and book illustrator. Born in London into a family of artists, he was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools in 1840. He exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy between 1839 and 1875. Most of these works depicted scenes drawn from literature, religion, and history.

Jeanette Pickersgill was an English painter, She was the first person to be legally cremated in the United Kingdom, at Woking Crematorium in Surrey.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea separates Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom's 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi) were home to an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.

In his will Pickersgill left a bequest to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. The lifeboat Henry William Pickersgill R.A., which served on the Dover station between 1878–88, was funded by this bequest. [9]

Letitia Elizabeth Landon's poem The Oriental Nosegay by Pickersgill in her Poetical Sketches of Modern Pictures (in The Troubadour, 1826) probably refers to his Oriental Love Letter (1824) in the R. A. collection.

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  1. F. H. W. Sheppard (General Editor) (1957). "The Wood-Michell estate: Hanbury Street west of Brick Lane". Survey of London: volume 27: Spitalfields and Mile End New Town. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 13 August 2013.
  2. 1 2 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Pickersgill, Henry William"  . Dictionary of National Biography . 45. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Royal Academy of Arts – Henry William Pickersgill, RA" . Retrieved 28 January 2009.
  4. 1 2 "Object of the Month: Henry William Pickersgill RA (1782–1875), The Oriental Love Letter". Royal Academy website. July 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2009.
  5. "Portraits by Henry William Pickersgill at the National Portrait gallery, London" . Retrieved 30 September 2008.
  6. "Portraits of Pickersgill at the National Portrait Gallery in London" . Retrieved 30 September 2008.
  7. "Wills and Bequests". Illustrated London News. 5 June 1875. Retrieved 28 January 2009.
  8. "How cremation became the way to go". BBC News Online. 25 March 2009. Retrieved 25 March 2009.
  9. "Previous Dover Lifeboats". Dover Lifeboat website. Archived from the original on 24 March 2007. Retrieved 30 September 2008.