Born in Liverpool in 1774, at the age of sixteen Thomas Hargreaves entered the Royal Academy schools, possibly following the advice of the eminent portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, to whom he was apprenticed from 1793.

After a spell of bad health which sent him back to the care of his family in Liverpool, he began to exhibit at both the Royal Academy (from 1798) and the Society of British Artists, of which he was a founder member. Like many other artists, Hargreaves subsidised his income by continuing to help his father in the family drapery business.

Around the time that the present miniature was painted, Hargreaves had established a studio in Liverpool (from 1803). He was a very successful artist, although unlike his teacher Lawrence, he mainly confined his portraits to miniatures. Possibly through Lawrence, or indeed through his own influential and flourishing practice, Hargreaves secured many important commissions. Among those whose portraits he painted in miniature were...

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Born in Liverpool in 1774, at the age of sixteen Thomas Hargreaves entered the Royal Academy schools, possibly following the advice of the eminent portrait painter Sir Thomas Lawrence, to whom he was apprenticed from 1793.

After a spell of bad health which sent him back to the care of his family in Liverpool, he began to exhibit at both the Royal Academy (from 1798) and the Society of British Artists, of which he was a founder member. Like many other artists, Hargreaves subsidised his income by continuing to help his father in the family drapery business.

Around the time that the present miniature was painted, Hargreaves had established a studio in Liverpool (from 1803). He was a very successful artist, although unlike his teacher Lawrence, he mainly confined his portraits to miniatures. Possibly through Lawrence, or indeed through his own influential and flourishing practice, Hargreaves secured many important commissions. Among those whose portraits he painted in miniature were Mr John Gladstone, Mrs Gladstone, W. E. Gladstone and his sister as children (all at Hawarden Castle, Flintshire), Sir Thomas Lawrence (exh. 1865, South Kensington Museum, London), the comedian Richard Suett, and the singer James Bartleman (Victoria and Albert Museum, London). The present portrait certainly owes a debt to Sir Thomas Lawrence’s dynamic and robust oil portraits.

Hargreaves also encouraged his own children to follow his profession. At least two of his sons, George Hargreaves (1797–1870) and Francis Hargreaves (1804–1877), became miniature painters and assisted in the family miniature-painting business, Hargreaves & Co., conducted in Bold Street, Liverpool, from about 1834. The Royal Academy archives include a letter which includes commending George Hargreaves to the care of the artist Henry Fuseli while he studies at the academy.[1]

[1]Title: W Roscoe, Liverpool to his "ever dear friend" [Henry Fuseli]; reference code FU/2/7 (Royal Academy of Arts Archive)

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500 Years of British Art