Sharp, Michael William (DNB00)

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SHARP, MICHAEL WILLIAM (d. 1840), painter, appears to have been born in London, and was a pupil of Sir William Beechey, R.A. He also studied in the schools of the Royal Academy. In 1813 he was settled at Norwich, where he appears to have been a pupil of John Crome [q. v.], with whom he lodged, and of whom he painted a small portrait, besides being godfather to one of his sons. Afterwards he became one of the prominent painters of the Norwich school, with whom he exhibited for some years. Sharp appears as a portrait-painter at the Royal Academy in 1801, but he attained his greatest success as a painter of small domestic scenes, usually of a humorous character. One of these, ‘The Music Master,’ exhibited at the British Institution in 1809, gained a premium of fifty guineas and was purchased by Mr. Thomas Hope. He obtained many commissions, and his pictures were usually quickly sold at the exhibitions. Many of them also were engraved, such as ‘Sunday Morning’ (R.A. 1820), ‘The Sailor's Wedding’ (R.A. 1828), ‘The Black Draught,’ and ‘The Spoilt Child.’ Sharp also executed for theatrical patrons several groups, containing portraits of the principal performers on the stage at that date, such as ‘Queen Constance before the Tents of the English and Foreign Sovereigns,’ painted in 1819; ‘An Author reading his Drama to an Assemblage of the Performers in the Green Room of Drury Lane Theatre;’ ‘The Shakespeare Jubilee, with Portraits of the principal Covent Garden Performers,’ &c. Sharp's works, despite a tendency to vulgarity, were very popular in his day. Sharp appears to have returned to London in 1820, and died at Boulogne in 1840. A lecture by him, delivered in 1820 to the Philosophical Society at Norwich, is printed in Elmes's ‘Annals of the Fine Arts,’ vols. iv. and v., as ‘An Essay on Gesture.’

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Graves's Dict. of Artists, 1760–1893; Annals of the Fine Arts, vols. iv. and v. passim.]

L. C.