DANBY, Francis
(b. 1793, Killinick, d. 1861, Exmouth)


Irish painter. He was a landowner's son and studied art at the Dublin Society. In 1813 he visited London, then worked in Bristol, initially on repetitious watercolours of local scenes: for example, View of Hotwells, the Avon Gorge (c. 1818; Bristol, Museum and Art Gallery). Around 1819 he entered the cultivated circle of George Cumberland (1754-1849) and the Rev. John Eagles (1783-1855). Danby's discovery of the 'poetry of nature' in local scenery and insignificant incident was influenced by the theories of Eagles, published as The Sketcher (1856), and, less directly, by those of William Wordsworth, who had been associated with Bristol earlier in the century.

Danby's distinctive work began with the small panel paintings he produced for his Bristol audience. Boy Sailing a Little Boat (c. 1822; Bristol, Museum and Art Gallery) recalls the rustic scenes of William Collins and the Bristol artist Edward Villiers Rippingille, but Danby emphasized the effect of sun and shade rather than sentiment.

Danby worked mainly in Bristol and London, but between 1829 and 1841, owing to financial and marital problems, he settled in Switzerland. He is remembered mainly for his bombastic apocalyptic paintings, which were a direct challenge to John Martin. However, his best works are now usually considered to be the romantic sunset landscapes of his later years, with their mood of melancholy and solemn serenity (Temple of Flora, Tate Gallery, London, 1840).

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