(b ?Exeter, c.1708; d London, 2 Feb. 1776). English painter and book illustrator. He was the most versatile British painter of his period, his work including subjects from literature and the theatre (notably Shakespeare), scenes of rural folklore, and portraits (his conversation pieces anticipated those of Gainsborough, who early in his career probably worked with him). Hayman also had the reputation of being ‘unquestionably the best historical painter in the kingdom before the arrival of Cipriani’ (Edward Edwards, Anecdotes of Painters…, 1808), but little of his work in this vein survives. In addition he was a prolific designer of book illustrations, sometimes collaborating with Gravelot. His biggest undertaking (c.1741) was the painting of about 50 large pictures to decorate the supper boxes and pavilions at Vauxhall Gardens, the fashionable London pleasure resort.

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

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