Benjamin Robert Haydon

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Haydon, Benjamin Robert (1786–1846). A historical painter, born in Plymouth, the son of a painter and publisher, Haydon was encouraged to sketch while at school. From an early age he showed great determination to succeed, yet his life ended in imprisonment for debt and suicide. For much of his life he painted large canvases of historical or religious subjects rather than more marketable works. A stubborn man, invariably in opposition to the establishment, he campaigned strenuously for patronage for the arts, the foundation of schools of design, decoration of public buildings, in particular the Houses of Parliament, and to save the Elgin marbles for the nation. He also became involved in radical politics. Despite his pugnacious character he had many admirers among the Romantic movement in literature, especially Wordsworth and Keats, whose portraits he painted. He is now chiefly remembered for his Autobiography and Memoirs, published in 1853.

June Cochrane