Lemuel “Francis” Abbott (ca. 1760 – 5 December 1802)
Background: He was born in Leicestershire in 1760 or 1761, the son of clergyman Lemuel Abbot, vicar of Thornton and his wife Mary. He started painting at the age of 14. Abbott died in London on 5 December 1802.
Education: In 1775, at the age of 14, he became a pupil of Francis Hayman and lived in London, but returned to his parents after his teacher’s death in 1776. There he continued to develop his artistic talents independently, but some authorities have suggested that he may also have studied with Joseph Wright of Derby.
In 1780, Abbott married Anna Maria, and again settled in London.. Although he exhibited at the Royal Academy, he never became an Academician. It is said that overwork, due to the commissions he took on, and domestic unhappiness led to his becoming insane. He was declared insane in 1798 and was treated by Dr Thomas Munro (1759–1833), the chief physician to Bethlem Hospital and a specialist in mental disorders – Munro also treated King George III(1738–1820).
Achivements: Abbott painted portraits of many figures of the day including leading seamen such as Admiral Nelson, Admiral Sir Robert Calder, Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Pasley and Captain William Locker, astronomer Sir William Herschel, poet William Cowper, artists Franseco Bartolozzi and Joseph Nollekens, entrepreneur Matthew Boulton and industrialist Jon Wilkinson amongst others.