Henry William Pickersgill was a successful portrait painter whose work was recognised as a refreshingly sober and accurate alternative to the elaborate styles of the leading portraitists. Pickersgill first studied under George Arnald and in 1805 enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools in London. The following year he exhibited his first work, a portrait of his adoptive father Henry Hall. During a prolific career that spanned 66 years, Pickersgill showed nearly 400 works at the Royal Academy and painted many more. After the death of Thomas Phillips in 1845, Pickersgill’s position as a painter of eminent men and women became almost unchallenged. A key figure in his career was his wife, Maria, who contributed to her husband’s commercial success by managing all his affairs.