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Westall, Richard (R.A.)

British painter Richard Westall was born in Norwich, England. Both he and his half-brother William Westall became well-known artists. Richard Westall grew up in London after the death of his mother and his father's bankruptcy. He was apprenticed for a time to a heraldic silver engraver, and later studied at the Royal Academy, where he exhibited from 1784 to 1836. He became an associate member of the Academy in 1792 and was elected an Academician in 1794. As an early practitioner of watercolor painting, Westall's work was sought after by publishers of the works of prominent poets. Westall eventually illustrated editions by Byron, Crabbe, Goldsmith, Gray, Milton, Moore, Scott, and Shakespeare. In 1790 he was commissioned by publisher-engraver John Boydell to work on the renowned Milton and Shakespeare sets. Some of Westall's works, particularly the illustrations for Milton, bear a strong resemblance to the work of his two contemporaries, William Blake and Henry Fuseli.

Westall painted several portraits of Lord Byron, who admired the artist. His portrait of Milton is in Sir John Soane's Museum in London, and a series of scenes depicting events in the life of Admiral Horatio Nelson are in the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. In the 1820s Westall was appointed drawing master to the young Princess Victoria, who portrait he also painted. He held that post for eight years. Westall's works are in many London collections including the British Museum, the Courtault Institute, the House of Lords, the National Portrait Gallery, the Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Tate Gallery, and the Wallace Collection, among others throughout Britain. His paintings are also in institutions in America, Australia, Europe, and New Zealand. 

Titania pictures the Faerie Queen of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream with the changeling child left to her by one of her votaresses. The child is the focus of the dispute between Titania and Oberon, who wants the child for his own entourage. Titania argues that the baby's mother "being mortal, of that boy did die/ And for her sake do I rear up her boy? And for her sake I will not part with him."

Title: Titania
Medium: oil on canvas, 17-3/4" x 14-1/4"