Research helps tell tale of city painter's brush with the city - The Worcester Observer

Research helps tell tale of city painter's brush with the city

Worcester Editorial 17th Dec, 2015 Updated: 19th Oct, 2016   0

RESEARCHERS at Worcestershire Archive Service have discovered that one of the most successful portraitists in Colonial America lived in Worcester for nearly 20 years before he died.

Described as ‘particularly important in the history of American art’ by The National Gallery of Art in Washington, Joseph Blackburn was a British painter with portraits dating from the 1750s and 1760s, but little was known about his later life, until now.

Often mistaken as American, research undertaken by archivists has now revealed that Blackburn died in 1787 in the parish of St Nicholas in Worcester, where his family were recorded as living from 1768.

An active member of the church, his will reveals that he was a wealthy man, had two daughters, Henrietta and Elizabeth and was eventually buried at St Nicholas on July 11, 1787.

The research conclusions and methodology are covered on the WAAS blog as part of the Explore Your Archive campaign, and have been shared by Bendor Grosvenor, prominent art historian and expert on BBC’s Fake or Fortune.

Paul Hudson, Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service Learning and Outreach Manager, said: “Naturally we are delighted to have shed some light on one of Worcester’s most celebrated residents. Although his work remains well-known, we knew very little about his life until our archivists started this research.

“Many congratulations to archivists Angela Downton, Julia Pincott and Teresa Jones, their work is a credit to Worcestershire Archive Service. However, we are eager to find out more, and if anybody feels they can contribute to what we know about this remarkable man, please do get in touch.”

For more information on Joseph Blackburn or the work of Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service visit


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