Ozias Humphry RA (1742 - 1810)
RA Collection: People and Organisations
Ozias Humphry was born in Honiton, Devon, and displayed artistic talent from an early age. He was sent to study at William Shipley’s drawing academy in London, with a view to producing patterns for his mother’s lace-manufacturing business.
However, Humphry had ambitions to be a painter and subsequently undertook an apprenticeship with the miniaturist Samuel Collins in Bath, cut short due to Collins’ financial difficulties. Humphry started his own practice as a miniaturist in Bath before moving to London in 1764, where he quickly established a large clientele which included the royal family. He exhibited at the Society of Artists between 1765 and 1771.
In 1773 Humphry embarked on a four-year visit to Italy with his friend George Romney. Having damaged his eyesight in a riding accident, Humphry intended to study the Old Masters to allow him to progress from miniature painting to become a painter in oils. Returning to England, Humphry dedicated himself to oil-painting for years but, unlike Romney, his efforts met with little success. He was, however, elected Associate of the Royal Academy in 1779, before becoming a full Member in 1791. Seeking to revive his career, Humphry decided to work in India like several other British painters during this period. He sailed to Calcutta in 1785 and obtained a promising commission to paint the nabob of Oudh and his courtiers at Lucknow in 1786. However, Humphry was never paid for the work, souring his time in India and leading to a prolonged legal battle. Humphry also struggle to cope with the climate, and returned to London in 1787.
Back in England, Humphry worked as a miniaturist from his former patrons, but in 1791 his sight deteriorated further, and he began working in crayon. In 1792 he was appointed portrait painter in crayons to the king. By the end of the decade, Humphry’s sight had deteriorated such that he could no longer work and had to plead for assistance from patrons. One of the finest English miniaturists, Humphry is also noteworthy for his papers and letters, which he kept meticulously throughout his life. These documents, now in the RA Collection, are a significant chronicle of the artistic sphere in 18th-century Britain.
Born: 8 September 1742 in Honiton, Devon, England, United Kingdom
Died: 9 March 1810
Elected ARA: 1 November 1779
Elected RA: 10 February 1791
Preferred media: Painting and Pastel
After Pierre-Étienne Falconet
Portrait of Ozias Humphry
Crayon manner engraving
Portrait of Ozias Humphry, c. 1785
George Dance RA
Portrait of Ozias Humphry, R.A., May 1793
Pencil and pink chalk (?) on cream wove paper
The Royal Academicians in General Assembly, 1795
Oil on canvas
J.N., Bologna, to Saml. Northcote, Plymouth, Devonshire, England
18 Oct 1779
Thomas Lawrence, Greek St., to Ozias Humphry
7 Aug 1805
T. Lawrence, to Joseph Farington, R.A. Farington, Parrs Wood, Didsbury, Manchester
4 Nov 1808
T. Lawrence, to Joseph Farington, Levens Hall, Westmorland
28 Oct 1828