Sarah Biffin, Mrs E.M. Wright

English (1784 - 1850)
Sarah Biffin Sarah Biffin, Mrs E.M. Wright, 1784 - 1850. Artist (Self-portrait) 1830


Born 1784
Died 1850
Nationality English

Sarah Biffin was born without hands, arms or feet and taught herself to paint by holding a brush between her teeth. Aged about thirteen, she was contracted to a travelling showman who persuaded her parents to allow her to tour the country. He exhibited her as a freak and a genius, and paid her a salary of five pounds a year, whilst the public paid to watch her paint miniatures. After sixteen years of service, Biffin was released from her contract, and, aided by the Earl of Morton, became an independent painter of miniature portraits. She received royal patronage and exhibited her work at the Royal Academy. In 1824 she married William Stephen Wright and, although the couple separated soon afterwards, for several years she signed her work with her married name.

Glossary terms

  • A painting or drawing, usually a portrait, on a very small scale. These were popular prior to the invention of photographic portraits in the 19th century.