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Benjamin Haydon - British Artist From Art History

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Historical Artist - Benjamin Haydon (1786 - 1846)

Benjamin Robert Haydon’s goal as a painter and writer was to reintroduce seriousness to British Art. His mission was to paint historical and religious subjects in the Grand Manner and to display them in order to educate the public. However, his tumultuous life was of far more interest than his paintings. He had spells of bankruptcy, imprisonment, and frustration and was also constantly struggling to earn the respect that only he thought he deserved. Also surpassing his paintings were his autobiographical writings that revealed information on the art scene of his time period and his unusual life and character. Haydon was associated with the Romantic movement, painting portraits of William Wordsworth and John Keats. He committed suicide in 1846. Haydon's autobiography is one of the most natural books ever written, full of various and abundant power, and fascinating to the reader. His love for his art was both a passion and a principle. He found patrons difficult to manage; and did not have the tact to lead them gently. Again according to the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, "Of his three great works — Solomon, Entry into Jerusalem and Lazarus — the second is generally regarded as the finest. Solomon shows his executive power at its loftiest, and is of itself enough to place Haydon at the head of British historical painting in his own time. Lazarus is a more unequal performance, and in various respects open to criticism; yet the head of Lazarus is so majestic and impressive that, if its author had done nothing else, we must still pronounce him a potent pictorial genius."

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