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Joseph Highmore ( 1692 - 1780 )  Category ( Painters ) [suggest a correction]

Highmore paintingJoseph Highmore was an eighteenth-century British artist. He specialized in portrait, historical, and images used in some of the most important novels written during the eighteenth century, including Samuel Richardson's Pamela. Highmore was born the third son to a middle-class family from London. His father was a coal merchant. From his childhood he displayed a strong interest and talent in the fine arts. His family looked down upon such pursuits as activities of the idle nobility and rich. Therefore, he received no support or encouragement from his family. Indeed, he received quite the opposite. His home life did not discourage him, however. He spent every spare moment engaged in artistic pursuit. When he was a teenager he was apprenticed as a law clerk, a position he despised. His family hoped he would become a lawyer, but when Highmore was seventeen he fled his job in favor of the risky life of an artist.

After ending his law career, Highmore studied for two years at Sir Godfrey Kneller's art academy in London. He began working professionally in 1715 and quickly became very popular among the English merchant class for his natural portrait style and attention to scenes from everyday life. Contemporaries considered his ability to portray subjects with dignity, while avoiding ostentation. These were qualities important to the growing middle class. Later in his career he added an interest in the French Rococo, which focuses on showy, but dainty detail and an interest in atmosphere and climate. Many of his portraits were noted for their dramatic lighting and a painterly style. Considered among his most significant works are his biblical history paintings, including Hagar and Ishmael, which today hangs in a London museum. When the Order of the Bath was reestablished, in 1725, Highmore was asked to paint portraits of the knights in full uniform and regalia. This major commission attracted a good deal of attention, and soon he was receiving more commissions in England and from abroad. He spent two years traveling and working in France and the Netherlands, and then returned home to England to continue perfecting his art. He painted almost right up to the date of his death.

Highmore was also an author, though he never achieved great fame for his writing. He was considered tiresome and longwinded. Among his more notable efforts are Critical Examination of Reubens' two Paintings in the Banqueting House, and Observations on Bodwell's Pamphlet against Christianity.

Image: Highmore painting.

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Title :Biography
Description : Biography of HIGHMORE, Joseph (b. 1692, London, d. 1780, Canterbury) in the Web Gallery of Art, a searchable image collection and database of European painting and sculpture (1100-1850)
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