ADAM BUCK (1759-1833)
The work of Adam Buck, Regency portrait and miniature painter, provides a fascinating insight into the faces and fashions of this time. Buck’s portraits of Royals, Landowners, Serving Officers and Society Hostesses, are an important record of the tastes and fashions of Regency England and have an immense charm. Jane Austen enthusiasts know Adam Buck’s work better than most.
Today, apart from specialist collectors, his work remains an undiscovered treasure for a much wider public. Although the artist achieved great social and artistic success in his own lifetime, his charming watercolour portraits have rarely been exhibited. At last, some 180 years since his death, the first biography of this true Society Artist, and the first major exhibitions of his different works, reveal an intimate record of Regency life.
Born in Cork to a family of Irish silversmiths, Buck specialised in painting miniatures from an early age and soon progressed to larger watercolour portraits. His 1787 family portrait of the Edgeworths includes Maria Edgeworth, Jane Austen’s main rival as a novelist of contemporary manners. After working in Ireland, Buck emigrated to London in 1795 at the age of 36 and began a long and prolific career as a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy for over 30 years, with over 170 exhibits.
Buck’s entry into London Society was meteoric. He soon enjoyed favour with both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York. He was particularly associated with depicting Mary Anne Clarke (1776-1852), the scandalous and intriguing mistress of the Duke of York. Her life story has been told with affectionate wit by her great grand-daughter, Daphne Du Maurier.
Buck’s love of the Antique, especially the art of Greece and Rome, inspired his life-long project to record images from Greek Vases, resulting in 157 large drawings now preserved in Trinity College Library, Dublin. His own designs, inspired by classical pieces such as these, were adapted for the decoration of contemporary ceramics and were popular as prints.
Click here to read Buck's Family History