Clarkson Stanfield

Prominent English marine and landscape painter in oils and watercolour (1793 - 1867)

Clarkson Stanfield was the fifth and youngest child of actor and author James Field Stanfield (1749 - 1824) and his first wife Mary Hoad (died 1801). Clarkson was named after the famous abolitionist Thomas Clarkson (1760 - 1846), who was admired by his father. The name William Clarkson, which he is sometimes referred to as, is a recurring error about him and may originate in the misreading of his monogram signature, or from confusion with his half-brother, William James Stanfield (1804 - 1827), who trained as a scene painter in London.

Stanfield moved to Edinburgh in 1806 to become an apprentice to a coach painter, a post he held for only a short while. He went to sea and was pressured into joining the navy in 1812, where he spent the next 4 years, before returning to London in 1816 to work as a scene painter. Stanfield married the actress Mary Hutchinson (1798/1799 - 1821) in 1818 but she died after the birth of their second child in 1821. He later remarried the actress Rebecca Adcock (1808–1875) and fathered 10 more children.

Stanfield was extremely successful as a scene painter and was connected with many reputable theatres. He painted over 550 scenes in more than 170 productions and his career as a painter in oils and watercolours developed alongside his reputation as a scene painter. He was a founder member of the Society of British Artists in 1823 and later became the vice-president in 1828 and president in 1829. He resigned from the Society in 1830 and set his sights on the Royal Academy of Arts in London, where he was elected associate in 1832 and full Academician in 1835. He exhibited 135 paintings at the Royal Academy between 1820 and his death.

He also began to produce pictures for travel books in 1827, beginning with topographical illustrations for George Cooke's (1781 - 1834) 'Views in London and its vicinity'. He also provided material for the first of Charles Heath's (1785 - 1848) 'Picturesque Annuals', inspired by his tour along the Rhine and Venice in 1830. Several other travel books followed. Stanfield completed large commissions for King William IV (1765 - 1837) and many other noble patrons. He also produced several canvases for Queen Victoria (1819 - 1901) in the 1840's. Through his connections in the theatre, he became friends with the writer Charles Dickens (1812 - 1870) and remained close to him until his death in 1867.
  • Gender
    Male
  • Relationship
    Artist/maker
  • Nationality
    British: English
  • Born
    1793-12-13
  • Place of birth
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: Tyne and Wear: Sunderland
  • Died
    1867-05-18
  • Place of death
    Europe: Northern Europe: UK: England: London
  • Cause of death
    Illness
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