HARLOW, George Henry
(b. 1787, London, d. 1819, London)


English painter. After briefly attending Westminster School in London, he trained as a painter, first under Hendrik Frans de Cort (1742-1810), then under Samuel Drummond (1765-1844) and finally with Thomas Lawrence. Although Lawrence was paid a considerable sum to accept Harlow into his studio he did not formally teach him; instead he allowed the young man to copy and occasionally help with his work. After 18 months the two fell out and Harlow left to pursue his own career though the influence of Lawrence's style was lasting.

Harlow made his début at the Royal Academy in 1804 with a portrait of Dr Thornton (untraced) and thereafter concentrated on this genre. There is a portrait of the painter James Northcote (c. 1815; National Portrait Gallery, London) by him. He also attempted history painting, though with less success, partly due to his lack of a proper art education. He produced a number of portraits of actors and actresses (e.g. Charles Mathews, pencil, 1814; National Portrait Gallery, London).

In order to make up for his deficient education, in 1818 he travelled to Italy to study the Old Masters. There he became greatly admired for his technical facility and was befriended by Canova. He caused considerable amazement in Rome by painting a full-size copy of Raphael's the Transfiguration (1517-20; Pinacoteca Vaticana, Rome) in only 18 days and was elected an Academician of Merit of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, a rare honour for an English artist.

He died from a throat infection soon after his return to England in 1819. An exhibition of his works was held after his death in Pall Mall, London.

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