Joseph Highmore

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Joseph Highmore
Highmore Joseph-Self-Portrait.jpg
Self-Portrait ca. 1745/47,
National Gallery of Victoria
Born (1692-06-13)13 June 1692
Died 3 March 1780(1780-03-03) (aged 87)
Nationality British
Known for Portrait painting
Spouse(s) Susanna Highmore

Joseph Highmore (13 June 1692 – 3 March 1780) was an English portrait and historical painter, illustrator and author.


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 from taking up art professionally, and began a legal training instead. At the ending of a clerkship at the age of 17, however, he abandoned the law and started to work as a painter.[1]

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.[1] In the next few years he received patronage from the royal family, but during the 1740s began to cater more for a middle-class clients.[2] In 1762 Highmore sold the contents of his studio and retired to Canterbury, where he lived with his daughter and son-in-law.[2]

Highmore died aged 87 on 3 March 1780.[1] He was buried in sheep's wool (to comply with a 17th-century statute to encourage the wool trade) in the fifth bay of the south aisle of Canterbury Cathedral.[1]


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.[1]


Pamela teaching her children (1743–45)

In addition to his work as a portraitist, Highmore painted works illustrating biblical subjects, historical painting being a style which Highmore had picked up on his travels in France.[1] One such biblical painting is Hagar and Ishmael, which Highmore donated to the Foundling Hospital for the purpose of decorating its Court Room.[1] The painting is now part of the Foundling Hospital art collection at the Foundling Museum in London.[1][3]

In 1744, Highmore painted a series of 12 illustrations to Samuel Richardson's Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, which were engraved by Benoist and Louis Truchy.[1]

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.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cust 1891.
  2. ^ a b "Joseph Highmore 1692-1780". Tate. Retrieved 19 October 2016. 
  3. ^ "Hagar and Ishmael". Art UK. Retrieved 21 October 2016. 

External links[edit]