Francis Wheatley was born in London. He studied at Shipley’s Academy before enrolling at the Royal Academy Schools in 1769. He made a number of trips aboard during the 1760s and became influenced by contemporary French painting, particularly the work of Jean-Baptiste Greuze and François Boucher. Wheatley was elected a Fellow of the Society of Artists in 1770 and became a director in 1774. In 1779, he fled to Dublin with the wife of another artist to escape creditors. Having established himself in Ireland, he returned to London in 1783 and produced work for the print publisher John Boydell. His images of itinerant merchants of the early 1790s were published for English and French markets. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1791.
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