Francis Danby  

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The Deluge (1840) by Francis Danby
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The Deluge (1840) by Francis Danby

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Francis Danby (16 November 17939 February 1861) was a painter born in the south of Ireland.

His father farmed a small property he owned near Wexford, but his death caused the family to move to Dublin, while Francis was still a schoolboy. He began to practice drawing at the Royal Dublin Societys schools; and under an erratic young artist named O'Connor he began painting landscapes. Danby also made acquaintance with George Petrie, and all three left for London together in 1824.

This expedition, undertaken with very inadequate funds, quickly came to an end, and they had to get home again by walking. At Bristol they made a pause, and Danby, finding he could get trifling sums for water-color drawings, remained there working diligently and sending to the London exhibitions pictures of importance. There his large pictures in oil quickly attracted attention.

The Upas Tree (1820) and The Delivery of the Israelites (1825) brought him his election as an associate of the Royal Academy. He left Bristol for London, and in 1828 exhibited his Opening of the Sixth Seal at the British Institution, receiving from that body a prize of 200 guineas; and this picture was followed by two others from the Apocalypse.

After his wife left him in 1829, Danby left London, declaring that he would never live there again, and that the Academy, instead of aiding him, had, somehow or other, used him badly. Some insurmountable domestic difficulty overtook him also, and for eleven or twelve years he lived on the Lake of Geneva in Switzerland, becoming a Bohemian with boat-building fancies, painting only now and then. He later moved to Paris for a short period of time.

He returned to England in 1841, when his sons, James and Thomas, both artists, were growing up. Other pictures by him were The Golden Age and The Evening Gun, the first begun before he left England, the second painted after his return; he had taken up his abode at Exmouth, where he died in 1861.


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