Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Abbott, Lemuel (1760-1803)

ABBOTT, LEMUEL (1760–1803), portrait painter, was a son of a clergyman in Leicestershire —— most probably the Rev. Lemuel Abbott, vicar of Thornton [q. v.]. At the age of fourteen he became a pupil of Frank Hayman, after whose death, two years later, he returned to his parents, and by his own perseverance acquired the art of taking a correct likeness. About 1780 he settled in London, and resided for many years in Caroline Street, Bloomsbury. He was a frequent contributor to the exhibitions of the Royal Academy between 1788 and 1800. Although he lacked the taste and skill requisite for producing a good whole-length picture, the heads of his male portraits were perfect in their likenesses, particularly those which he painted from the naval heroes of his time. His portrait of the poet Cowper is well known, and the best likeness of Lord Nelson is from his hand. Many of the prints from his pictures are marked Francis Lemuel Abbott, but it is not known why he assumed this additional Christian name, which was not bestowed upon him at the font. Being of a penurious disposition, he employed no assistant, and consequently he was overwhelmed with commissions which he could not execute. Domestic disquiet, occasioned by his marriage with a woman of very absurd conduct, preyed upon his mind and brought on insanity, which at last terminated in his death in 1803.

[Edwards's Anecd. of Painters, 281; Pilkington's Dict. of Painters, ed. Davenport; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers, ed. Stanley; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists (1878).]

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