(b. 1758, London, d. 1810, London)


English painter of German descent, born in London. He was the son of a German lady-in-waiting to Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III. From an early age he received protection and support from King George III, leading to speculation at the time that he may have been his son, although this has never been proved. Brought up at the British court, he trained as a chorister at the Chapel Royal. When he chose to reject this course of study in favour of enrolment in the Royal Academy schools, he received an allowance from the king.

After the death of Reynolds, he and Lawrence were the leading portraitists in the country. In his attempts to emulate first Reynolds, then Lawrence, Hoppner rarely achieved striking individuality, but his best work, particularly his portraits of women and children, often has great charm.

He became an established portrait painter, whose court connections earned him many prestigious sitters. However, his wife's vocal support for the rebels in the War of American Independence tarnished his favour there, although this did not prevent his appointment as Portrait Painter to the Prince of Wales in 1789. Hoppner exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1780 to 1809, being elected Academician in 1795.

He was a popular portrait painter, who, in the taste of the time, combined sympathetic representation of his sitters with romantic and noble poses, as can be seen in the expression and lowered viewpoint adopted in his portrait of Vice-Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour (National Maritime Museum, London).

His son, Richard Belgrave Hoppner also became a painter, but chose to specialize in marine scenes rather than portraiture.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.