William Fisk

(1797* - 8 November 1872)

Portrait and historical painter, was born in 1797 at Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. He did not take up art as a profession till he was thirty-one years of age, having been for the ten previous years engaged in mercantile employment. His first picture exhibited at the Royal Academy was a portrait in 1831, and he continued painting in the same branch of art till 1835; from this date his pictures were chiefly historical. Among these we may mention 'Leonardo da Vinci dying in the arms of Francis I.,' exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1838; ' Attempted Assassination of Lorenzo de' Medici in Florence in 1478,' exhibited in 1839, and which was awarded the gold medal of the Manchester Institution in 1840; and 'The Trial of Charles I.,' exhibited in 1842, and afterwards engraved. His historical pictures are well composed, and accurate as to costume. He retired a few years later to a property he had purchased in the country, and from this time almost entirely relinquished painting. He died at Danbury, near Chelmsford.

[Bryan's dictionary of painters and engravers, 1903.] div

William Fisk, (1797-1872), Early displayed a talent for art, but did not practice it as a profession until he had reached his thirtieth year. First exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1829, contributing one or more portraits annually until 1836, when he sent "The Coronation of Robert the Bruce," devoting himself after that time to the painting of historical pictures, which were popular and frequently engraved. Among them may be mentioned, "Cromwell's Family interceding for the Life of Charles I." (1840), "Charles V. picking up Titian's Pencil" (1840), "Charles I. passing through Whitehall Palace to his Execution " (1843), "Trial of the Earl of Stafford," and "The Attempted Assassination of Lorenzo de Medici," which received the gold medal of the British Institution in 1840, as the best historical picture. He has not exhibited in public since 1848.

"If Mr. Fisk's works may not be classed in a high rank of historical painting, they are most creditable examples, well composed, careful in execution, and accurate in costume and accessories." -- Art Journal, January, 1873.

[Artists of the Nineteenth Century; Biographical Sketches. By Clara Erskine Clement & Laurence Hutton, 1879. ] div

William Fisk, (1796 (7?)–1872), painter, born in 1796 at Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex, was the son of a yeoman farmer at Can Hall in that county, of a family which boasted of some antiquity, dating back to the days of Henry IV. Drawing very early became Fisk's favourite occupation, but his inclination to art was discouraged by his father, who sent him to school at Colchester, and at nineteen years of age placed him in a mercantile house in London. In this uncongenial profession Fisk remained for ten years, though he never neglected his artistic powers, and in 1818 sent to the Royal Academy a portrait of Mr. G. Fisk, and in 1819 a portrait of a 'Child and Favourite Dog.'

He married about 1826, and after the birth of his eldest son he devoted himself seriously to art as a profession. In 1829 he sent to the Royal Academy a portrait of William Redmore Bigg, R. A., and continued to exhibit portraits there for a few years. At the British Institution he exhibited in 1830 'The Widow,' and in 1832 'Puck.' About 1834 he took to painting large historical compositions, by which he is best known. These compositions, though a failure from an artistic point of view, possessed value from the care Fisk took to obtain contemporary portraits and authorities for costume, which he faithfully reproduced on his canvas. Some of them were engraved, and the popularity of the engravings led to his painting more. They comprised 'Lady Jane Grey, when in confinement in the Tower, visited by Feckenham' (British Institution, 1834); 'The Coronation of Robert Bruce' (Royal Academy, 1836); 'La Journée des Dupes' (Royal Academy, 1837); 'Leonardo da Vinci expiring in the arms of Francis I' (Royal Academy, 1838); 'The Chancellor Wriothesley approaching to apprehend Katherine Parr on a charge of heresy,' and 'Mary, widow of Louis XII of France, receiving Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, ambassador from Henry VIII' (British Institution, 1838); 'The Queen Mother, Marie de Medici, demanding the dismissal of Cardinal Richelieu' (British Institution, 1839); 'The Conspiracy of the Pazzi, or the attempt to assassinate Lorenzo de Medici' (Royal Academy, 1839); the last-named picture was in 1840 awarded the gold medal of the Manchester Institution for the best historical picture exhibited in their gallery. About 1840 Fisk commenced a series of pictures connected with the reign of Charles I, namely, 'Cromwell's Family interceding for the life of Charles I' (Royal Academy, 1840); 'The Trial of the Earl of Strafford' (never exhibited, engraved by James Scott in 1841, and now in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool); 'The Trial of Charles I in Westminster Hall' (Royal Academy, 1842); 'Charles I passing through the banqueting-house, Whitehall, to the Scaffold' (Royal Academy, 1843); 'The last interview of Charles I with his Children' (British Institution, 1844). After these his productions were of a less ambitious nature, and he eventually retired from active life to some property at Danbury in Essex, where he died. He was also a frequent contributor to the Suffolk Street exhibition.

[Art Journal, 1873, p. 6; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760-1880; Catalogues of the Royal Academy and British Institution; Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 19, Fisk, William (1796-1872), by Lionel Henry Cust.] div

William Fisk was born at Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex, the son of a yeoman farmer at Can Hall. His father sent him to school at Colchester, and at nineteen years of age placed him in a mercantile house in London. There he remained for ten years. He married about 1826, and after the birth of his eldest son he devoted himself seriously to art as a profession.

In 1818 Fisk sent to the Royal Academy a portrait of Mr. G. Fisk, and in 1819 a portrait of a 'Child and Favourite Dog.' In 1829 he sent to the Royal Academy a portrait of William Redmore Bigg, R. A., and continued to exhibit portraits there for a few years. At the British Institution he exhibited in 1830 'The Widow,' and in 1832 'Puck.'

About 1834 he took to painting large historical compositions, by which he is best known. Fisk took care to obtain contemporary portraits and authorities for costume, which he faithfully reproduced on his canvas. Some of them were engraved, and were popular. They comprised 'Lady Jane Grey, when in confinement in the Tower, visited by Feckenham' (British Institution, 1834); 'The Coronation of Robert Bruce' (Royal Academy, 1836); 'La Journée des Dupes' (Royal Academy, 1837); 'Leonardo da Vinci expiring in the arms of Francis I' (Royal Academy, 1838); 'The Chancellor Wriothesley approaching to apprehend Katherine Parr on a charge of heresy,' and 'Mary, widow of Louis XII of France, receiving Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, ambassador from Henry VIII' (British Institution, 1838); 'The Queen Mother, Marie de' Medici, demanding the dismissal of Cardinal Richelieu' (British Institution, 1839); 'The Conspiracy of the Pazzi, or the attempt to assassinate Lorenzo de' Medici' (Royal Academy, 1839), which was in 1840 awarded the gold medal of the Manchester Institution for the best historical picture exhibited in their gallery.

About 1840 Fisk started a series of pictures connected with the reign of Charles I, namely, 'Cromwell's Family interceding for the life of Charles I' (Royal Academy, 1840); 'The Trial of the Earl of Strafford' (never exhibited, engraved by James Scott in 1841, and acquired for the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool); 'The Trial of Charles I in Westminster Hall' (Royal Academy, 1842); 'Charles I passing through the banqueting-house, Whitehall, to the Scaffold' (Royal Academy, 1843); 'The last interview of Charles I with his Children' (British Institution, 1844). He was also a frequent contributor to the Suffolk Street exhibition.

He eventually retired to some property at Danbury in Essex, where he died on 8 November 1872.

[en.Wikipedia; Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1900.] div

*Sources differ on birth year: 1796 or 1797.


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