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Daniel Maclise

Irish, 1806 - 1870

Daniel Maclise was a painter whose talent and charm won him patrons and friends in the Irish and English intellectual and literary world. He initially trained in the Cork Institute of Arts and became involved in the revival of Irish culture. He launched his career as a portrait painter in Ireland after the success of his portrait of the novelist Sir Walter Scott who visited Cork in 1825. Maclise moved to London in 1827 and entered the Royal Academy schools in 1828. As a student he supported himself first through portraiture and then as a subject painter.

Maclise's skill as a portrait painter led to an invitation to contribute a series of caricatures to "Fraser", a popular magazine founded in the 1830s. In 1831 he won a gold medal in the Royal Academy's competition for history painting with "The Choice of Hercules".

From the 1830s onwards much of Maclise's work was based on historical, literary and Shakespearean themes and had a strong emphasis on gestures, expressions and details. Later on, his historical work became less concerned with realistic details and took a much more symbolic and grand tone.

The most important point in Maclise's career was in 1844/1845 when he was commissioned to decorate part of the House of Lords with two paintings, "The Spirit of Chivalry" and "The Spirit of Justice".