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Joseph Highmore

British, 1692-1780

Joseph Highmore was born in London, June 13, 1692 and died in Canterbury, March 3, 1780.

Highmore established his independent portrait practice in 1715, two years after enrolling as a pupil in Godfrey Kneller's Academy of Painting. In 1720 he became a founding member of the first St. Martin's Lane Academy, organized by Chéron and Vanderbank, and he swiftly gained the patronage of rich City merchants as well as aristocrats. He studied the works of Rubens and Van Dyck during a trip to the Low Countries in 1732, and rococo style in Paris in 1734. His portraits and conversation pieces of the 1740s and 1750s were especially popular with middle-class patrons. Highmore painted a few biblical subjects and his series of paintings illustrating Samuel Richardson's novel Pamela were engraved in 1745. However, portraiture remained his principal preoccupation until 1762, when he retired to Canterbury to write numerous pamphlets on subjects ranging from Rubens to perspective theory.