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Mulready, William

MULREADY, WILLIAM (1786-1863), English subject painter, was born at Ennis, Co. Clare, on the 30th of April 1786. When he was about five years old his father, a leather-breeches maker by trade, removed to London, where the son received a tolerable education, chiefly under Catholic priests. He was fond of reading, and fonder still of drawing. 1 When eleven years old Mulready was employed by an artist named Graham as the model for a figure in his picture of " Solomon Blessed by his Father David." The painter's interest in the lad did much to confirm his artistic proclivities; and, having studied at home for two years, Mulready applied for advice to Banks the sculptor, who sent him to a drawing school and permitted him to work in his own studio. In 1800 he was admitted a student of the Academy, and two years later he gained the silver palette of the Society of Arts. About this time he was associated with John Varley, the eccentric water-colour painter and drawing-master, whom he assisted in the tuition of his pupils, who included Cox, Fielding, Linnell, William Hunt, and 1 Some reproductions of his early attempts in this direction are given, along with details of his life, in a scarce volume for the young, entitled The Looking-Glass, written by William Godwin under the nom de plume of Theophilus Marcliffe, and published in 1805.

Turner of Oxford. At eighteen he married a sister of Varley 's, and at twenty-four he was the father of four sons. The marriage was unhappy, and the pair separated before many years. He " tried his hand at everything," as he said, " from a miniature to a panorama." He painted portraits, taught drawing, and up till 1809 designed illustrations to a series of children's pennybooks. His first pictures were classical and religious subjects of no great merit, and the early works which he sent to the Academy were mainly landscapes; but he soon discovered his special aptitude for genre-painting, and in 1809 produced the "Carpenter's Shop," and in 1811 the "Barber's Shop," pictures influenced by the example of Wilkie and the Dutch painters. In 1813 he exhibited his " Punch," a more original and spontaneous work, which brought the artist into notice, and two years later his " Idle Boys " procured his election as associate. Next year he received full academic honours, and the election was justified by the " Fight Interrupted " which he then exhibited. It was followed by the "Wolf and the Lamb" (1820), the " Convalescent "(1822), "Interior of an English Cottage "(1828), " Dogs of Two Minds " (1830), the " Seven Ages " (1838), and in 1839 and 1840 by the " Sonnet and First Love," two of the most perfect and poetical of the artist's works. In 1840 he designed an aOegorically covered postal envelope (the " Mulready envelope," soon discontinued 2 ) for Rowland Hill, and a set of illustrations to The Vicar of Wakefield, which were succeeded by his paintings of the " Whistonian Controversy " (1844), " Choosing the Wedding Gown " (1846), and " Sophia and Burchell Haymaking " (1849). His later works, like the "Bathers" (1849), "Mother teaching her Children" (1859), and the " Toy Seller " (1862), show declining powers, mainly attributable to failing health. The last evening of his life was spent at a meeting of the Academy, of which, for nearly fifty years, he had been a most active and efficient member. He died of heart disease on the 7th of July 1863.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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