Francis Hayman RA (1708 - 1776)

RA Collection: People and Organisations

A Founder Member of the Royal Academy, Francis Hayman was a skilled painter who taught generations of young artists and also served as the Royal Academy’s first Librarian.

Hayman was born in 1707/8 in Exeter and initially studied with the portrait painter Thomas Hudson, who later also taught, Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA. Hayman began his career painting scenery for London theatres including Drury Lane. He was an active member of the St Martin’s Lane Academy, led by William Hogarth, where students included Thomas Gainsborough and Nathaniel Dance.

In the late 1730s, the owner of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, Jonathan Tyers, commissioned Hayman to decorate the ornate pavilions, known as “supper boxes” there. The paintings produced by Hayman and his assistants are credited with spreading the French Rococo taste to England. Surviving examples are held in collections at the Tate and V&A.

In addition to his theatre work, Hayman was in demand as a portraitist and illustrator, providing popular illustrations for six volumes of Shakespeare’s plays in 1744 and a 1749 edition of John Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Hayman was involved with early attempts to found an Academy and also served as President of the Society of Artists. After a series of internal disputes in the Society, Hayman was ousted from his position in 1768, shortly before the official formation of the Royal Academy of Arts. Hayman was named a Founder Member of the new Academy and became its first Librarian in 1770. He died in February 1776.


Royal Academician

Foundation Member

Born: 1708 in Exeter, Devon, England, United Kingdom

Died: 2 February 1776

Nationality: British

Elected RA: 10 December 1768

Librarian: 1 October 1770 - 2 February 1776

Gender: Male

Preferred media: Painting and Illustration

Works by Francis Hayman in the RA Collection

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Works after Francis Hayman in the RA Collection

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Works associated with Francis Hayman in the RA Collection

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Associated books

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Associated archives

18 results