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Francis Hayman

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Dancing milkmaids, c. 1735.

Francis Hayman (1708 - 2 February 1776) was an English painter and illustrator who became one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768 and later its first librarian.

Born in Exeter, Devon, Hayman begun his artistic career as a scene painter in London's Drury Lane theatres (where he also appeared in minor roles) before establishing a studio in St Martin's Lane.

A versatile artist influenced by the French Rococo style, he achieved some note during the 1740s through decorative paintings executed for Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in London, but could also turn his hand to portraits, landscapes, and scenes from history and literature.

Combining some of these, he contributing 31 pictures to a 1744 edition of Shakespeare's plays by Sir Thomas Hanmer, and later portrayed many leading contemporary actors in Shakespearean roles, including David Garrick as Richard III (1760). He also illustrated the novels of Samuel Richardson.

He was an able teacher. His pupils included Mason Chamberlin, Nathaniel Dance-Holland and Lemuel Francis Abbott and he was also a strong influence on Thomas Gainsborough.

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