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Thomas Phillips

1770 – 1845

Thomas Phillips was born in Dudley, Warwickshire and initially trained as a glass painter before moving to London, aged 20, with a letter of introduction to the painter Benjamin West. American-born West, a noted portrait painter who succeeded Sir Joshua Reynolds as President of the Royal Academy in 1792, found Phillips employment on the windows of St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. On canvas, Phillips started out working in landscape and history painting, first exhibiting at the Royal Academy in 1792. By 1796, he was primarily occupied with portraits and his reputation and demand as a portrait painter rivalled that of artists such as Thomas Lawrence and John Hoppner. He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1808, and in 1824, he succeeded Henry Fuseli as professor of painting at the Academy school. Among Phillips's portrait subjects are many eighteenth-century British luminaries, including William Blake, Sir Joseph Banks, Lord Byron, and Michael Faraday. His works are held in major public collections in Britain, Australia and the United States.

Updated 2018