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The history painter Haydon was intensely ambitious and opinionated. He studied under the artist Fuseli. He was an ardent campaigner for public patronage of the arts and for the purchase of the Elgin Marbles in 1816. A friend of Wordsworth, Keats and Lamb, Haydon was convinced of his own towering genius, but apart from a couple of successes, his career as a history painter was ultimately a failure. He is now better remembered for his diaries and for his friendship with Keats and Wordsworth than he is for his sprawling canvases. Unwilling to compromise his ideals, he was endlessly in debt and was driven to suicide in 1846. This is an appropriately idiosyncratic portrait of Haydon, painted by Georgiana Margaretta Zornlin when she was his pupil.
Benjamin Robert Haydon
oil on canvas
H 68.6 x W 57.2 cm
Given by Georgiana Margaretta Zornlin, 1878