Clarkson Stanfield RA (1793-1867)

The painter Clarkson Stanfield was born in Sunderland, his father being of Irish origin. His first career was as a sailor in the Navy, but after an injury, he was discharged in 1818, and became a painter of theatre backdrops, taking up the art just when gas superceded oil lamps for theatre lighting, so that scene painting became more important. He worked mainly for theatres in Edinburgh and London, including working with David Roberts. He then became one of the more successful marine painters. In 1824 he became a member of the Society of British Artists, followed by election to ARA in 1832, and a full Royal Academician in 1835. He painted in Britain, Holland and Italy, and as well as sea-paintings, also carried out some landscape paintings, and historical and literary subject pictures which unsurprisingly tended to concentrate more on the scenery than the figures. He exhibited over 130 works at the Academy.

Stanfield also produced some book illustrations, including being one of the illustrators of Charles Dickens.

Work by Stanfield is not that easy to find on the walls of the galleries, and I cannot recall seeing any of his pictures in the Tate's collection emerge. But there is an excellent shipwreck scene On the Coast of Brittany at the Bury Museum and Art Gallery, and in Hastings Museum and Art Gallery is a good Fishing Boat on a Beach.

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