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William Clarkson Stanfield

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English painter, b. at Sunderland, 1793; d. at Hampstead, near London, 1867. He became a sailor, and on one of his journeys to new Guinea made the acquaintance of Thomas Clarkson, who was strongly interested in the abolition of the slave trade; in proof of his warm friendship with whom, he added the name of Clarkson to his own, and thereafter styled himself William Clarkson Stanfield. He was disabled in 1816, and then started as a scene-painter in a theatre, much frequented by sailors, from which he obtained engagements to the various other London theatres. Making the acquaintance of Douglas Jerrold and Captain Marryat, the novelist, he was strongly recommended to take up the painting of panel pictures, and to try his chance at an exhibition. He exhibited at the Society of British Artists in 1824, and again in 1827, gaining considerable attention and encouragement. Two years later he sent a picture to the Academy, which was favourably received, and, gaining a prize of fifty guineas from the British Institution, he relinquished scene-painting and started on a Continental tour, painting various pictures. From that time he was a steady exhibitor at the Academy, sending in nearly one hundred and forty pictures to its exhibitions. His paintings partook of the character of scene-painting in their spectacular and stagey effect, but many of them were very charming, and were greatly admired, and some of his best will hardly ever be excelled as fine representations of sea scenes. Perhaps his greatest is the one in the possession of Mrs. Burns; other works of importance are those painted for the Marquess of Lansdowne at Bowood, and the four beautiful examples in the Victoria and Albert Museum. He was a man of tremendous energy, and regarded by his friends as exceedingly charming and pleasant. A devout Catholic, he spent the latter part of his life in an old house at Hampstead, still standing, and used partly as a library and partly as a residence. His funeral took place in the Catholic cemetery at Kensal Green, and a couple of years after his death there was a memorial exhibition of his works in the Royal Academy. There is no work dealing with this painter that has any claim for special recognition; consult the memoirs in the local papers of Hampstead, and in the principal journals of the day.

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