Robert Smirke (painter)

Robert Smirke (1752 - 5 January 1845), English painter, was born at Wigton near Carlisle.

In his thirteenth year he was apprenticed in London with an heraldic painter, and at the age of twenty he began to study in the schools of the Royal Academy, to whose exhibition he contributed in 1786 a "Narcissus" and a "Sabrina," which were followed by many works, usually small in size, illustrative of the English poets, especially James Thomson.

In 1791 Smirke was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and two years later a full member. He painted pictures for John Boydell's Shakespeare Gallery, including "Katharina and Petruchio", "Prince Henry" and "Falstaff". In 1814 he was nominated keeper to the Royal Academy, but the king refused to sanction the appointment on account of the artist's revolutionary opinions.

He also executed many clever and popular book-illustrations. His works, which are frequently humorous, are pleasing and graceful, accomplished in draughtsmanship and handled with considerable spirit. He died in London on 5 January 1845.

His sons Robert and Sydney both became accomplished architects and were both elected members of the Royal Academy. His third son, Edward was a noted lawyer and antiquary.

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