Doughty, William (DNB00)

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DOUGHTY, WILLIAM (d. 1782), portrait-painter and mezzotint engraver, was a native of Yorkshire, who, after having etched a few portraits, was in 1775, on the introduction of the poet Mason, placed under the tuition of Sir Joshua Reynolds. He remained about three years in the house of Sir Joshua as his pupil, and from 1776 sent portraits, including a good three-quarter length of his patron, the Rev. William Mason, in 1778, to the exhibition of the Royal Academy. Northcote states that about this time, by the desire of Mason, he painted the portrait of the poet Gray (d. 1771) by description and the help of an outline of his profile, which had been taken by lamp-light when he was living. He etched this head as a frontispiece to Mason's edition of Gray's ‘Poems,’ published in 1778. On leaving Sir Joshua he went to Ireland as a portrait-painter, but was not successful, although highly recommended by his master. He returned to London much dispirited, and occupied himself in engraving in mezzotint heads after Sir Joshua Reynolds, most of which are dated 1779, the year in which he exhibited at the Royal Academy a picture of ‘Circe.’ In 1780 he married Margaret Joy, a servant girl in Sir Joshua's house, and with her started for Bengal; but the ship in which he sailed was captured by the combined squadrons of France and Spain. He was taken to Lisbon, where he died in 1782. His widow continued her voyage to India, where she had friends, but died just after her arrival.

Doughty was a mezzotint engraver of great power. His best plates are half-lengths of Dr. Johnson and the Rev. William Mason from paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, after whom he engraved also Admiral Viscount Keppel, Mrs. Swinburne, and Mary Palmer, Sir Joshua's niece, afterwards Marchioness of Thomond. He engraved, likewise after Sir Joshua, ‘Ariadne’ and a ‘Sleeping Child.’ There is also a head by him, apparently not quite finished, which is said to represent the artist himself, but this statement is somewhat doubtful.

[Northcote's Life of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1818, ii. 33–4; Chaloner Smith's British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878–83, i. 218–21; Catalogues of the Exhibition of the Royal Academy, 1776–1779.]

R. E. G.