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Portrait of a Girl
Photo credit: Historic England Archive

Portrait of a Girl 1788

John Downman (1750–1824)

English Heritage, Battle Abbey

(b Ruabon, nr. Wrexham, Wales, c.1750 d Wrexham, 24 Dec. 1824). British painter and draughtsman, mainly of portraits. He was a pupil of Benjamin West, before becoming part of the first intake of students at the Royal Academy in 1769. In 1773–5 he visited Italy with Joseph Wright. After his return to England he became a leading fashionable portraitist. His success depended partly on his speed of work, and from the 1780s he relinquished oils in favour of a distinctive technique that enabled him to produce portraits in great quantity, using black chalk lightly tinted with watercolour. He lived mainly in London, but he travelled widely about the country, often staying in great houses while he produced a series of portraits of members of the family.

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


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