Samuel de Wilde was born to Dutch parents who had settled in London by the late 1740s. He was initially apprenticed as a joiner, but he cut his training short to enrol at the Royal Academy Schools in 1769, the year after the foundation of the Academy. Many of his early works from the 1770s are portraits, but it was with specifically theatrical portraits that he made his name. His studio was in Covent Garden, conveniently close for actors to visit him there and pose in costume.
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