Self-Portrait ca. 1745/47,
National Gallery of Victoria
13 June 1692|
|Died||3 March 1780(aged 87)|
|Known for||Portrait painting|
Highmore was born in London, the third son of Edward Highmore, a coal merchant, and nephew of Thomas Highmore, Serjeant Painter to William III. He displayed early ability but was discouraged by his family. At the ending of a clerkship at the age of 17, he abandoned law and started to work as a painter. On the revival of the Order of the Bath in 1725, he was selected to paint the knights in full costume. The years 1732 to 1734 were spent on a tour of the Netherlands and France and on his return to England, he applied himself to perfecting his talent, which continued for the next 50 years of his life, until his death, at the age of 87 on 3 March 1780.
His wife Susanna Highmore (née Hiller) was a poet, though little of her work was published. His son Anthony Highmore (1719–99) was an artist, one of whose 15 children, Anthony Highmore Jnr. (1758–1829), became a writer on legal affairs and a social activist.
Among his best works are biblical "Histories", historical painting being a style which Highmore had picked up on his travels in France. One such biblical painting is Hagar and Ishmael, which was donated to the Foundling Hospital for the purpose of decorating its Court Room (the room where the Court of Governors met). The painting is still part of the Foundling Hospital art collection, and can now be seen at the Foundling Museum in London.
As an author, he was best known for the works Critical Examination of Reubens' two Paintings in the Banqueting House and Observations on Bodwell's Pamphlet against Christianity.
- Hubert-François Gravelot (also provided illustrations for an earlier, 1742 edition, of Richardson's Pamela).
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- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cust, Lionel Henry (1891). "Highmore, Joseph". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography. 26. London: Smith, Elder & Co.