|Ozias Humphry by Valentine Green after George Romney, 1772|
Today we meet an artistic gentleman who was born to a lacemaker and a wigmaker and rose to the heights of his field. Friendly with the greatest names in England, Ozias Humphry became one of the most respected painters in England yet an accident in the 1770s would prove a defining moment in his professional life.
When Humphry was 15 he left Devon for London and a position studying art at Shipley's school. From there he trailed to Bath and became apprentice to miniaturist Samuel Collins whilst staying with our old friend, Thomas Linley, a fine billet that introduced him to some of the more fashionable names of England. Humphry's work was seen and admired by Gainsborough and my own favourite, Sir Joshua Reynolds and when Collins fled England in a hurry to escape his debts, Humphry struck out alone as a miniaturist and built a considerable name for himself in the field, with the demands of work drawing him back to the capital.
|Mrs Archibald Hutcheson by Ozias Humphry|
|Gavin Hamilton by Ozias Humphry, 1777|
In 1773 Humphry and George Romney travelled to Italy where they remained for four years, studying art and anatomy and honing their craft. Upon his return to England, Humphry found himself in even more demand and his skills were officially recognised by his election to the Royal Academy in 1779. By now a man of considerable means, Humphry indulged his wanderlust again in 1785, spending two years in India and when he returned to England this time, it was as a pastellist.
With his popularity and patrons as notable as ever, Humphry was appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons to the King in 1793. Tragically, the celebrated artist was finally rendered blind in 1797 and retired to his London home, where he lived out the remainder of his days as a figure to be admired and respected by his contemporaries and those who aspired to the heights he had reached.
|The Rice Portrait, believed to be a painting of Jane Austen as a child, painted by Ozias Humphry , 1788-90. Attribution of the painting is a matter of ongoing debate and is well-documented!|