New research on Joseph Blackburn
November 20 2015
Picture: Portrait of Colonel Atkinson by Joseph Blackburn, Worcester Art Museum, Worcester, Massachusetts.
Resarchers at Worcestershire Archive service here in the UK have unearthed fascinating new details about the life of Joseph Blackburn, a British painter who was one of the most successful portraitists in Colonial America.
Here is how the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography begins its entry on Blackburn:
Blackburn [is] of obscure origins: nothing is known of his birth, parents, geographical area of origin, or education. His career is documented primarily by about seventy signed portraits painted between 1752 and 1777 in Bermuda, New England, Ireland, and the west of England. An equal number of portraits, mainly of New England subjects, are attributed to him. [...] Nothing is known of Blackburn's death or burial.
But thanks to the new research we now know:
- He died in 1787 in the parish of St Nicholas in Worcester, England, where his family is recorded as living from 1768.
- He was an active member of the church there.
- We now have his will (which reveals he was wealthy).
- He had two daughters, Henrietta and Elizabeth.
- He was buried in St Nicholas Church in Worcester on 11th July 1787.
- The church is now a pub, called the Slug and Lettuce.
More details of this excellent work here. Many congratulations to Angela Downton, Julia Pincott and Teresa Jones, archivists at Worcestershire Archive Service.