WESTALL, Richard
(b. 1765, Hertford, d. 1836, London)


English painter and illustrator. He was apprenticed in 1799 to John Thompson, a heraldic engraver in London. The miniaturist John Alefounder (d. 1795) advised Westall to take up painting, and in 1784 he exhibited a portrait drawing (untraced) at the Royal Academy. He became a student at the Royal Academy Schools in 1785, an Associate of the Royal Academy (ARA) in 1792 and a Royal Academician (RA) in 1794.

He exhibited over 300 works at the Royal Academy and 70 at the British Institution, including such large watercolours as Cassandra Prophesying the Fall of Troy (1796; Victoria and Albert Museum, London), which are painted in violent and sometimes excessive colours. Others, such as The Rosebud (1791; Yale Center of British Art, New Haven), tend towards a Rococo prettiness.

Westall's principal expertise was book illustration. He was employed by John Boydell, Thomas Macklin and Robert Bowyer, and he illustrated Milton's poetical works (3 vols; London, 1794-97). He painted five pictures for Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery, including a Scene from Henry VIII (1790s; Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington). In 1814 he held a solo exhibition at his house in Upper Charlotte Street, London. His output was prolific, but unfortunate picture dealings led to poverty.

The artist's son, William Westall (1781-1850), was a painter, engraver, and lithographer.