KEAN, MICHAEL

(d. 1823)

Miniature Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Born in Dublin, he entered the Dublin Society's Schools in 1771, and there gained a silver medal for drawing. Although he had at first intended to become a sculptor he, on leaving the school, established himself as a portrait painter in miniature and crayons. After following his profession for a few years in Dublin, he went to London and appeared as an exhibitor in the Royal Academy in 1786. He continued to exhibit until 1790, and then became a partner with William Duesbury, proprietor of the Derby china factory; and after Duesbury's death in 1796 married his widow. The quality of the work produced in the factory was considerably advanced under Kean's management by his artistic training and skill, as well as by improvements introduced by him in the manufacture. In 1811 he disposed of the business and returned to London, and died there in November, 1823.

Kean was a hot-tempered man, and for many years was separated from his wife. He was at one time a captain in the Derby Volunteers, and left a son who became a captain in the Navy. Among Kean's works were portraits of "Dr. Wolde of the British Museum," exhibited in 1789; miniatures of "Lunardi the aeronaut" and "Colonel St. Leger," which, together with four portraits of ladies, were exhibited at South Kensington in 1865; and "George Butt, M.D.," engraved in stipple by T. Nugent, as frontispiece to his "Poems," in 1793.

An earlier artist of the same name exhibited at the Free Society in 1765 and the two following years, and was described in the catalogue as "Mathematician and Drawing Master, Devonshire Street, Red Lyon Square."

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