Frederick William Burton- Biography

Frederick William Burton, Victorian water-colorist, was born at Corofin House, Inchiquin Lake, in Ireland on April 8, 1816, to Samuel Frederick Burton and his wife Hanna Mallett.

Frederick William Burton Biography

His father had a considerable amount of property which he acquired from his direct line ancestors Thomas and Francis, sons of Edward Burton of York who settled in Ireland in 1616.

Frederick William Burton
Frederick William Burton

In 1874, Frederick William Burton was appointed as the Royal director of National Gallery, London. He was accomplished as a water-colorist and miniature painting, exhibiting his first painting at Royal Hibernian Academy at the age of 16.

The Early Life of Frederick William Burton

Burton understood his great love for art at a young age, beginning his training at the Dublin Society Schools under the brothers Brocas in 1826.

While making a copy at the Dublin National Gallery, He made friends with an Irish landscape painter and archaeologist, George Petrie.

He was greatly influenced by the work of Petrie for a time but soon developed power in the grasp of his subject and command in the colors which Petrie could never attain in his lifetime.

At the age of 21, he was named as an associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy and was a full-time member at the end of the next two years.

The Beginning of Frederick Burton’s Artistic Career

Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1855, and a full member in the following year. With a great sense of color and depth in his paintings,

He had a touch of Van Eyck and other great masters adding accuracy of line and some refinement of his own, he created many such greats.

Frederick William Burton : Blind Girl at the Holy Well
Blind Girl at the Holy Well

His great career ahead as an artist was foreseen after his ‘Blind Girl at the Holy Well’ in 1840, ‘Aran Fisherman’s Drowned Child’ and ‘Connaught Toilette’ in 1841.

His skill in portraiture painting was so prolific that they were passed down to their descendants as family heirlooms. Burton stayed in Dublin working as portraiture painter in the service of Maximilian II of Bavaria adding more magic to his paintings with every passing day.

Frederick William Burton Paintings

In 1851 he left Ireland and settled in Munich, Germany for the next seven years. He began studying the German artwork and all of its branches extensively making notes for him for further use of flowers, costumes, and landscapes in the future.

With a great sense of color and depth in his paintings, he had a touch of Van Eyck and other great masters adding accuracy of line and some refinement of his own, he created many such great paintings that were sought for at high prices in the market.

Frederick William Burton The Meeting in the Turret Stairs
The Meeting in the Turret Stairs

He was elected an associate of the Royal at paintings that were sought for at high prices in the market. He was elected an associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1855, and a full member in the following year.

Frederick Famous Work

He was working on few paintings over the years slowing that was regarded as the highest point of completeness and a true beauty which included ‘The Meeting in the Turret Stairs’, ‘Faust’s First Sight of Margaret’ and ‘Lostephane‘. 

In 1863, he became a member of the London Society of Antiquaries where his technique and accuracy was the point of discussion.

Later in Burton’s Life

Burton was appointed as the director of the National Gallery in London in 1874 which came as a surprise to everyone else. He succeeded Sir William Boxall RA and continued to serve as a director for the next two decade.

Frederick William Burton Artwork

With the vast knowledge that he had gained over the years, he was well fitted for the office. In the followings year, he gave his easel up for all of his artworks and focused on the collection of excellence.

He had collected almost 400+ items from the market in his tenure for the National Gallery until he finally retired.

Frederick William Burton

In the year 1884, he was also knighted. After his retirement, he did not take up his brushes nor did he indulge himself in his studies that had been resting for the last twenty years. Increased weakness and loss of his eyesight might be one of the reasons.

Venetian Lady seated at a Balcony: Painting

He did not even complete an artwork ‘Venetian Lady seated at a Balcony’ which could have been one of his finest artwork with a little more labor. He was honored with a degree of L.L.D. from Trinity College, Dublin in 1896.

Though he had left Ireland for a long time, his heart always rested there. In 1899, his health was increasingly deteriorating when he finally died in 1900 at the age of ninety on March 16th. He was taken back to his country and was buried alongside his parents in Dublin.

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