Thomas Phillips

Last updated

Self-portrait (1820s) Thomas Phillips, by Thomas Phillips.jpg
Self-portrait (1820s)

Thomas Phillips RA (18 October 1770 20 April 1845) was a leading English portrait and subject painter. He painted many of the great men of the day including scientists, artists, writers, poets and explorers.

Contents

Life and work

Phillips was born at Dudley, then in Worcestershire. Having learnt glass-painting in Birmingham under Francis Eginton, [1] he visited London in 1790 with an introduction to Benjamin West, who found him employment on the painted-glass windows of St George's Chapel at Windsor. In 1791 he became a student at the Royal Academy, where, in 1792 he exhibited a view of Windsor Castle, followed in the next two years by the "Death of Talbot, Earl of Shrewsbury, at the Battle of Castillon", "Ruth and Naomi", "Elijah restoring the Widow's Son", "Cupid disarmed by Euphrosyne", and other pictures. [2]

After 1796, he concentrated on portrait-painting. However, the field was very crowded with the likes of John Hoppner, William Owen, Thomas Lawrence and Martin Archer Shee competing for business; consequently, from 1796 to 1800, his exhibited works were chiefly portraits of gentlemen and ladies, often nameless in the catalogue and of no great importance, historically speaking. [1]

In 1804 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, together with his rival, William Owen. About the same time he moved to 8 George Street, Hanover Square, London, formerly the residence of Henry Tresham, R.A., where he lived for the rest of his life. He became a royal academician in 1808, and presented as his diploma work "Venus and Adonis" (exhibited the same year), perhaps the best of his creative subjects, apart from "Expulsion from Paradise". Meanwhile, he rose steadily in public favour, and in 1806, painted the Prince of Wales, the Marchioness of Stafford, the "Marquess of Stafford's Family", and Lord Thurlow. In 1807 he sent to the Royal Academy the well-known portrait of William Blake, now in the National Portrait Gallery, London, which was engraved in line by Luigi Schiavonetti, and later etched by William Bell Scott. [1]

His contributions to the academy exhibition of 1809 included a portrait of Sir Joseph Banks (engraved by Niccolo Schiavonetti), and to that of 1814, two portraits of Lord Byron (engraved by Robert Graves, A.R.A). In 1818 he exhibited a portrait of Sir Francis Chantrey, R.A., and, in 1819, one of the poet George Crabbe. His 1822 portrait of Sir Charles Asgill was exhibited at the Royal Academy that same year. In 1825 he was elected professor of painting at the Royal Academy, succeeding Henry Fuseli, and, in order to qualify himself for his duties, visited Italy and Rome in company with William Hilton, R. A., and also Sir David Wilkie, whom they met in Florence. He resigned the professorship in 1832, and in 1833 published his "Lectures on the History and Principles of Painting". [1]

Phillips also painted portraits of Walter Scott, Robert Southey, George Anthony Legh Keck (1830), Thomas Campbell (poet), Joseph Henry Green, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Henry Hallam, Mary Somerville, Sir Edward Parry, Sir John Franklin, Dixon Denham, the African traveller, and Hugh Clapperton. Besides these he painted two portraits of Sir David Wilkie, the Duke of York (for the town-hall, Liverpool), Dean William Buckland, Sir Humphry Davy, Samuel Rogers, Michael Faraday (engraved in mezzotint by Henry Cousins), John Dalton, and a head of Napoleon I, painted in Paris in 1802, not from actual sittings, but with Empress Josephine's consent, who afforded him opportunities of observing the First Consul while at dinner. Years later in Paris, he was to portray his younger colleague Ary Scheffer (c. 1835, Musée de la Vie romantique, Paris).[ citation needed ]

A self-portrait, exhibited in 1844, was one of his last works. [1]

Phillips wrote many occasional essays on the fine arts, especially for Rees's "Cyclopaedia", and also a memoir of William Hogarth for John Nichols's edition of that artist's "Works", 1808–17. He was a fellow of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries. He was also, with Chantrey, Turner, Robertson, and others, one of the founders of the Artists' General Benevolent Institution. [1]

Phillips died at 8 George Street, Hanover Square, London, on 20 April 1845, and was interred in the burial-ground of St. John's Wood chapel. He married Elizabeth Fraser of Fairfield, near Inverness. They had two daughters and two sons, the elder of whom, Joseph Scott Phillips, became a major in the Bengal artillery, and died at Wimbledon, Surrey, on 18 December 1884, aged 72. His younger son, Henry Wyndham Phillips (1820–1868) was a portrait painter, secretary of the "Artists General Benevolent Institution", and captain in the Artists' volunteer corps. [1]

Artist and illustrator, John William Wright (1802–1848), was his pupil.

Related Research Articles

David Wilkie (artist) Scottish painter (1785–1841)

Sir David Wilkie was a Scottish painter, especially known for his genre scenes. He painted successfully in a wide variety of genres, including historical scenes, portraits, including formal royal ones, and scenes from his travels to Europe and the Middle East. His main base was in London, but he died and was buried at sea, off Gibraltar, returning from his first trip to the Middle East. He was sometimes known as the "people's painter".

Henry Raeburn Scottish portrait painter (1756–1823)

Sir Henry Raeburn was a Scottish portrait painter. He served as Portrait Painter to King George IV in Scotland.

Robert Smirke (painter) English painter

Robert Smirke was an English painter and illustrator, specialising in small paintings showing subjects taken from literature. He was a member of the Royal Academy.

George Richmond (painter) English painter

George Richmond was an English painter and portraitist. In his youth he was a member of The Ancients, a group of followers of William Blake. Later in life he established a career as a portrait painter, which included painting the portraits of the British gentry, nobility and royalty.

William Hilton (painter) British artist, 1786-1839

William Hilton was a British portrait and history painter. He is also known as "William Hilton the Younger".

John Raphael Smith English painter and mezzotinter (1751–1812)

John Raphael Smith was a British painter and mezzotinter. He was the son of Thomas Smith of Derby, the landscape painter, and father of John Rubens Smith, a painter who emigrated to the United States.

William Allan (painter) 19th-century Scottish artist

Sir William Allan was a distinguished Scottish historical painter known for his scenes of Russian life. He became president of the Royal Scottish Academy and was made a Royal Academician.

Henry Thomas Ryall

Henry Thomas Ryall was an English line, stipple and mixed-method engraver and later used mixed mezzotint.

Robert Scott Lauder Scottish painter

Robert Scott Lauder was a Scottish artist who described himself as a "historical painter". He was one of the original members of the Royal Scottish Academy.

James Heath (engraver) British engraver

James Heath was a British engraver. He enjoyed the patronage of George III and successive monarchs.

John Partridge (artist) British artist and portrait painter (1789–1872)

John Partridge was a British artist and portrait painter. Named 'portrait painter-extraordinary' to Queen Victoria, his pictures depict many of the notable figures of his time.

John Jackson (painter) English painter

John Jackson was a British portraitist.

Peter Hollins English sculptor

Peter Hollins was an English sculptor operating throughout the 19th century.

Thomas Uwins English painter

Thomas Uwins was a British portrait, subject, genre and landscape painter, and a book illustrator. He became a full member of the Old Watercolour Society and a Royal Academician, and held a number of high-profile art appointments including librarian of the Royal Academy, Surveyor of Pictures to Queen Victoria and Keeper of the National Gallery.

Thomas Brigstocke

Thomas Brigstocke was a Welsh portrait painter. He studied art in London, and then spent eight years in Italy before returning to England. In the 1840s he visited Egypt, where he painted portraits of Mohammed Ali Pasha and his family.

Henry Perlee Parker English artist (1785–1873)

Henry Perlee Parker (1785–1873) was an artist who specialised in portrait and genre paintings. He made his mark in Newcastle upon Tyne in the 1820s through patronage by wealthy landowners and through paintings of large-scale events of civic pride. Over a period of forty years his work was exhibited at the Royal Academy and the British Institution in London. Coastal scenes of fisherfolk and smugglers were a popular specialism. Through the distribution and sale of mezzotint prints of subjects such as William and Grace Darling Going to the Rescue of the SS Forfarshire, Parker became one of the north-east's best-known nineteenth-century artists. In Newcastle upon Tyne he was central to the setting-up of a Northern Academy for the Arts. Later, in Sheffield, he taught drawing at the Wesleyan Proprietary Grammar School, and in his later years he lived in Hammersmith, London. He had a large family and was married three times.

John Henry Robinson (1796–1871) was an English engraver.

James Green (1771–1834) was an English artist, known as a portrait-painter.

Robert Graves (engraver)

Robert Graves (1798–1873) was a British engraver.

Lumb Stocks British engraver

Lumb Stocks was a British engraver. In a long career he produced engravings from paintings by notable artists of the day.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1896). "Phillips, Thomas (1770–1845)". Dictionary of National Biography . Vol. 45. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 216–7.
  2. Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Phillips, Thomas". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 21 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 407.