Francis Danby - Encyclopedia

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FRANCIS DANBY (1793-1861), English painter, was born in the south of Ireland on the 16th of November 1793. His father farmed a small property he owned near Wexford, but his death caused the family to remove to Dublin, while Francis was still a schoolboy. He began to practice drawing at the Royal Dublin Society's schools; and under an erratic young artist named O'Connor he began painting landscape. Danby also made acquaintance with George Petrie, and all three left for London together in 1813. This expedition, undertaken with very inadequate funds, quickly came to an end, and they had to get home again by walking. At Bristol they made a pause, and Danby, finding he could get trifling sums for water-colour drawings, remained there working diligently and sending to the London exhibitions pictures of importance. There his large pictures in oil quickly attracted attention. "The Upas Tree" (1820) and "The Delivery of the Israelites" (1825) brought him his election as an associate of the Royal Academy. He left Bristol for London, and in 1828 exhibited his "Opening of the Sixth Seal" at the British Institution, receiving from that body a prize of 200 guineas; and this picture was followed by two others from the Apocalypse. He suddenly left London, declaring that he would never live there again, and that the Academy, instead of aiding him, had, somehow or other, used him badly. Some insurmountable domestic difficulty overtook him also, and for eleven or twelve years he lived on the Lake of Geneva, a Bohemian with boat-building fancies, painting only now and then. He returned to England in 1841, when his sons, James and Thomas, both artists, were growing up. Other pictures by him were "The Golden Age" and "The Evening Gun," the first begun before he left England, the second painted after his return; he had taken up his abode at Exmouth, where he died on the 9th of February 1861.

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