Frederick William Burton Biography1816-1900
Irish Pre-Raphaelite Painter
Educated in Dublin, he was elected an associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy at the age of twenty-one and an academician two years later. In 1842 he began to exhibit at the Royal Academy. A visit to Germany and Bavaria in 1851 was the first of a long series of trips to various parts of Europe, which gave him a profound knowledge of the works of the Old Masters. In 1874 when he was appointed director of the National Gallery, London During the twenty years that he held this post he was responsible for many important purchases, among them Leonardo da Vinci's Virgin of the Rocks, Raphael's Ansidei Madonna, Anthony van Dyck's equestrian portrait of Charles I, Hans Holbein the Younger's Ambassadors, and the Admiral Pulido Pareja, by Diego Velazquez (this subsequently attributed to Velazquez's assistant Juan Bautista Martinez del Mazo). He also added to the noted series of Early Italian pictures in the gallery. The number of acquisitions made to the collection during his period of office amounts to more than 500.
He was elected an associate of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1855, and a full member in the following year. He resigned in 1870, and was reelected as an honorary member in 1886. A knighthood was conferred on him in 1884, and the degree of LL.D. of Dublin in 1889. In his youth he had strong sympathy with the Young Ireland Party. He died in Kensington, London.
Burton's watercolours Hellelil and Hildebrand and The Meeting on Turret Stairs, 1864 are exhibited at The National Gallery of Ireland.