This famous 19th Century artist was best known as a painter of historic scenes, of genre and of portrait. He was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1806 and died in London in 1870.
Maclise united in his work the distinction of the Scots and the cheerful irony of the Irish. Though originally studying to work in a bank, Maclise soon switched to art at Cork and also completed serious anatomical studies. By the time he arrived in London in July 1827, he had formed a real talent for portraiture.
His studies at the Royal Academy Schools augured his brilliance. In 1829 he was given a Gold Medal, accompanied by an offer of a fund for travel, which he refused. In the same year, his success at his debut exhibition at the Royal Academy was continued in the following years in his exhibitions of portraits, which were also well received. His gifts to the Royal Academy of 81 etchings of portraits of famous people and to the British Institute of two genre paintings, further enhanced his reputation among the artistic establishment.
An Associate of the Royal Academy by 1836, he was honoured by the French in becoming an Académicien in 1840. In 1846 he became a Member of the Stockholm Academy and in the same year he was commissioned to decorate the new Parliament Palace in Paris. Among his works for this commission, which lasted 18 years, were Wellington and Blücher and The Death of Nelson. In 1866 he refused the Presidency of the Royal Academy with the same simplicity of character which persuaded him to refuse other titled offices.
Maclise also completed a famous series of frescoes in the House of Lords. Later, the death of his dear sister caused him inconsolable grief. His health steadily declined and he died in 1870.