Francis Danby

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Danby, Francis, A.R.A., was born near Wexford in 1793, and received his early artistic education at the school of the Royal Dublin Society. In 1812 he earned enough to pay his way to London with a friend, O'Connor. He struggled with difficulties for some years, and would have been glad to return to Ireland if he had had means; but at length sprang into fame by his "Sunset at Sea after a Storm," exhibited in the Royal Academy in 1824. Two years afterwards he was elected an Associate, beyond which grade he never advanced. For fifteen years he resided principally on the Continent, painting and drawing on commission. "In 1841", says the Annual Register, "he returned and resumed his place in public favour, by exhibiting year after year a series of pictures, the power, poetry, and romance of which should long ago have won their painter a chair among the forty, were the battle always to the strong in art. But a private reason was alleged for this artistic wrong, and the latter years of the artist's life were embittered by the sense of injury and the disappointment of hope deferred. Danby's style was so peculiarly his own that none once acquainted with it could enter the rooms of the Royal Academy without instantly picking out his works. In the power of accumulating his subjects — whether masses of men or masses of architecture and other inanimate objects — he was equal to Martin or Turner. Over these principal subjects he threw an atmosphere of glow and sunshine, of solemn evening splendour, of mid-day glare or gorgeous sunset, or of warm voluptuous moonlight, that was altogether his. It may, however, be objected to many of his pictures, that his tints sometimes conveyed the idea of arid and fierce heat." His great painting of "The Opening of the Seventh Seal," in the Dublin National Gallery, was finished in 1828. Mr. Danby died at Exmouth, 17th February 1861, aged 68. He left two sons, both artists.


7. Annual Register. London, 1756-1877.

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