William Doughty, Portrait Painter and Engraver

(fl. (?) 1773-1782)

Portrait Painter and Engraver

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

An English artist who tried his fortune in Ireland for a short time, but did not succeed. He was a native of York, and appears to have commenced his artistic career there, producing some portrait etchings in 1773. On the recommendation of the Rev. William Mason, Canon of York, who had befriended him, he became a pupil of Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1775. He remained in Sir Joshua's house three years and was accounted one of the best of his pupils. During this time he painted a portrait of the poet Gray, and etched the head for a frontispiece to Mason's edition of Gray's "Poems" published in 1778. He exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1776, 1777, and 1778, his address being given in the catalogues as "At Sir J. Reynolds's Leicester Fields," and again, in 1779, after his return from Ireland, when he was living at 4 Little Titchfield Street, Cavendish Square.

On leaving Reynolds in 1778 Doughty went to Ireland; but although he had high recommendations from his master he was not successful in obtaining a practice. Unfortunately for him Robert Home (q.v.) had gone over about the same time, and although he is said to have been inferior to Doughty as an artist, his social qualities and connections secured him a fashionable and profitable practice, which Doughty failed to achieve. Dispirited by his failure Doughty returned to London in 1779, and occupied himself for a time in mezzotint engraving at which he was very successful. The few prints scraped by him, mostly heads after Reynolds, are of high quality and good examples of the art. Most of them were published by Doughty himself at 4 Little Titchfield Street. In 1780 he married a servant in Reynolds's house, Margaret Joy, and determining to try his fortune in the East he embarked with her for India the same year. On the voyage his ship was captured by the Spanish fleet and he was taken to Lisbon where he died in 1782. His wife went on to India, where she had friends, but died shortly after her arrival.

The only works done by Doughty in Ireland, of which any record has been found, are:

Portrait of Simon, Earl Harcourt. Painted in collaboration with Robert Hunter (q.v.). [Nuneham Courteney, Oxfordshire.]

Miss Sisson, holding a book in her hand.

« Andrew Donaldson | Contents and Search | James Dowling »