Benjamin Robert Haydon Additional Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Benjamin Robert Haydon, a painter of historical subjects, as a child displayed a precocious interest in art, and he was encouraged by his parents and his first teacher, all of whom were fond of painting as an avocation. Haydon determined to take up painting as a career and refused the more dependable livelihood promised by his father’s printing and publishing office. An eye inflammation had seriously impaired his vision, but it was characteristic of Haydon that this handicap merely increased his determination. He went to London in 1804, studied for two years, and then embarked upon the series of large historical canvases that made his reputation. Although these heroic paintings gained him wide recognition, they brought in very little money; moreover, the Royal Academy gave his work a cold reception, mostly because he wrote scathing articles about the academy’s tyranny over British art and taste for Leigh Hunt’s Examiner, thereby ensuring their lasting enmity. Frequently cheated in payments and commissions, often in debt and finally imprisoned for it, Haydon remained industrious, courageous, and optimistic. His family was often in want, and five of his eight children died. To support the family, he was forced to depend upon his lectures on painting; he gave free painting lessons and tried unsuccessfully to start another academy. His romantic paintings, vast in scope and grandiose in style, were known and admired throughout the world, but they did not...

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Davis, N. S. “Wordsworth, Haydon, and Beaumont: A Change in the Role of Artistic Patronage.” Charles Lamb Bulletin 55 (July, 1986).

George, Eric. The Life and Death of Benjamin Robert Haydon, Historical Painter, 1786-1846. 2d ed. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1967.

Jack, Ian. English Literature, 1815-1832. New York: Oxford University Press, 1963.

Jones, Stanley. “B. R. Haydon on Hazlitt and Lamb: A Novelist’s Touch.” Charles Lamb Bulletin 63 (1988).

Lang, Varley. “Benjamin Robert Haydon.” Philological Quarterly 26, no. 3 (July, 1947).

Olney, Clarke. Benjamin Robert Haydon, Historical Painter. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1952.

Parry, G. “The Grand Delusions of Benjamin Haydon.” Keats-Shelley Review 31 (1980).

Peters, Robert. Haydon: An Artist’s Life. Greensboro, N.C.: Unicorn Press, 1989.

Porter, R. J. “‘In Me the Solitary Sublimity’: Posturing and the Collapse of Romantic Will in Benjamin Robert Haydon.” In The Culture of Autobiography: Constructions of Self-Representation, edited by Robert Folkenflik. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1993.

Woolf, Virginia. “Genius: Haydon.” In The Moment, and Other Essays. 1948. Reprint. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974.