William Henry Pyne was born in London; the son of a leather dresser. He studied at the drawing school of Henry Pars, before being apprenticed to engraver William Sharp at 14. He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1790. In 1804 he was involved in founding the Society of Painters in Watercolours but resigned five years later in protest to its exclusivity. In his late 20s he began to collaborate with publisher Rudolph Ackermann on books from which amateur artists could copy. He also wrote text for Ackermann’s ‘Microcosm of London’. Writing became his principle source of income and he worked as an art critic and penned a novel. In 1828 he was confined to the King’s Bench Prison for debts, returning there in 1835. He died of a stroke, aged 73.
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