(b Dalton-in-Furness, Lancashire [now in Cumbria], 15 Dec. 1734; d Kendal, Cumberland [now in Cumbria], 15 Nov. 1802). English painter (mainly of portraits) and draughtsman. He worked in the north of England (mainly in Kendal, but also in York) until 1762, when he settled in London. There he became the most successful portraitist of the day apart from Reynolds and Gainsborough. His posthumous reputation was once almost the equal of theirs, but later faded considerably. Much of his work is now considered facile and repetitive compared with that of his two great contemporaries, and he was probably at his best with portraits of young people, when his delicate colour sense and graceful line were used to good effect. As with many successful portraitists, his heart lay elsewhere and he had aspirations to be a history painter.

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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