Richard Sisson, Portrait Painter

(d. 1767)

Portrait Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

He belonged to a well-known family in Dublin who were engaged in the linen trade and had a manufactory at Lucan. A Jonathan Sisson of Lucan, was granted a sum of five hundred pounds by the Irish Parliament in 1757, to reimburse him for his expenses incurred in his endeavours to bring the manufacture of printed linens to perfection. Richard Sisson was educated at Shackleton's School at Ballitore, Co. Kilkenny, where he had as a school-fellow Edmund Burke, whose friendship he enjoyed during his after life. On leaving the school he was apprenticed to Francis Bindon, the portrait painter, and on the expiration of his apprenticeship went abroad and spent some time in France and Italy. In Paris he met his old school-fellow, Burke, and they lived for some months together. On his return to Ireland he settled in Dublin as a portrait painter in oil, pastel and miniature, and he also worked in London. Edmund Burke sat to him for a miniature, and Horace Walpole mentions him in two letters to Sir Horace Mann, in 1760.

In Dublin he resided in William Street, and took a prominent part in organizing and planning the exhibitions of the Society of Artists. He exhibited with them twelve portraits in oil in 1765, 1766 and 1767. Pasquin says that "he affected to paint in the manner of Denner." Although a very indifferent painter he had a good practice in portraiture. He scraped a mezzotint of "William Pitt," similar to a print by Houston; it is inscribed R. Sisson Fecit.

In 1763 he married, in Naas, a Miss Smith of Ann Street, Dublin. He died in his house in William Street in April, 1767. His wife, left in straitened circumstances, opened a school, and Edmund Burke afterwards provided for his son.

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