(b. 1786, Ennis, d. 1863, London)


Irish-born painter, who went to England as a child and entered the Royal Academy Schools at 14. He was the pupil and brother-in-law of John Varley. He became a highly successful Victorian genre painter, influenced - as was Wilkie - by Dutch 17th-century genre. His technique of painting in thin layers on a white ground links him tenuously with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, but his pretty and undemandingly trivial subject matter, his use of a middle tone, and traditional 18th-century systems of composition, later incurred their particular displeasure and rejection. He became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1815, and, following the success of his The Fight Interrupted in 1816, a Royal Academician. He designed the first penny post envelope issued by Rowland Hill in 1840.