Abraham Wivell

Date of birth
1786
Date of death
1849
Biography
Abraham Wivell
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Abraham Wivell (1786-1849) was a British portrait painter, writer and pioneer of fire protection, credited with inventing the first effective fire escape system. After working as a hairdresser, Wivell established himself as a society portrait painter before concentrating his efforts on fire safety measures.
Art[edit]
engraving by Wivell depicting Roger O'Connor holding a crown. O'Connor claimed to be the rightful king of IrelandBorn in Marylebone, London, Wivell was forced to work from an early age after his father died leaving his mother in poverty.[1] He worked on a farm from the age of six, and did various jobs in London as a child. In 1799, he was apprenticed to a wigmaker, which at the time was part of normal hairdressing. After completing his seven year apprenticeship, he set up his own hairdressing salon.[2]
Initially an amateur artist, he advertised his skills by showing portrait miniatures he had painted in his hairdressing shop window. By this means he gained commissions for portrait drawings and paintings, aided by the support of Joseph Nollekens and James Northcote.[3] A drawing he created of Caroline of Brunswick, wife of King George IV, appealed to the queen herself, who gave Wivell a personal sitting. His link to the queen soon helped him achieve fame as an artist. When she was put of trial for adultery in the House of Lords, Wivell sneaked in among the lawyers and made sketches of the leading figures involved.[1] These were published to illustrate the sensational case.[2] The popular feeling in favour of Caroline led to good sales. Wivell later depicted other figures in the news, including Arthur Thistlewood, a leader of the Cato Street conspiracy.
Wivell subsequently became an established society portraitist, painting royalty and aristocracy. He also painted nearly 200 portraits of MPs for a view depicting the House of Commons in session, which was published as a print.[2] Most of Wivell's portraits were highly finished works in pencil, though he did paint some oils and attempted to make some etchings.[1]
After visiting Stratford-upon-Avon to make a study of the tomb sculpture of Shakespeare, Wivell decided to create an illustrated study of all known portraits of the poet. In 1827 Wivell published the work under the title An inquiry into the history, authenticity, & characteristics of the Shakspeare portraits. As well as a collection of prints, the book presented a detailed examination of purported Shakespeare portraits. The book also replied the arguments of an earlier work by James Boaden.[4] Unfortunately, Wivell lost a great deal on money on the venture, as the cost of printing such a richly illustrated work far exceeded the sales.[1] However, he was saved financially by the death of his uncle, Abram Wivell of Camden Town, who left him his house and furniture and an lifetime annuity of £100.[1]
source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Wivell

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