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    Pen & ink

    31 x 18cm




    Benjamin Haydon is almost as famous for his unfortunate life as he is for his art, with biographies titled ‘Neglected Genius’ (1990) and ‘A Genius for Failure’ (2009) giving some indication of his modern-day reputation, which is not entirely undeserved.


    Although a brilliant draughtsman, anatomist, history painter and lecturer, Haydon was dogged throughout his life by financial woes: he fell out with the Academy when, at just 21, his first exhibited work was hung in a distant corner of the Summer show; he fell out with Richard Payne Knight (one of the leading patrons and connoisseurs of his day) and Sir George Beaumont over the value of the Elgin Marbles; and, having never truly been out of debt, at the age of 60 he committed suicide.

    Despite these misfortunes, he could, among other accolades, claim to have influenced the British political establishment’s taste for grand historical painting. Furthermore, in spite of his animosity towards the Academy, they are now the holders of his most important anatomical studies - among the finest of the 19th century. He counted many luminaries as close friends, including the fellow history painter Sir David Wilkie, William Hazlitt, Sir Robert Peel and Lord Carlisle.


    These drawings, likely of actors in a Shakespearian role, are absolutely typical of his bold, fluid figure studies, many of which can be found in the British Museum, Yale Centre for British Art, the Royal Academy collections and the National Galleries of Scotland.

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