Nothing is known of the earliest years or parentage of John Augustus Atkinson. At eight or nine he travelled to St. Petersburg with engraver James Walker, who had a position within the court of Catherine the Great. Atkinson later worked in the court, producing paintings of Russian life and portraits. He also illustrated Samuel Butler's ‘Hudibras’ (1798). Atkinson and Walker returned to London in 1802, where Atkinson studied painting and illustrated books on costume and foreign life. Atkinson and Walker collaborated on several engravings until 1816, when they gave up the premises they shared in Conway Street. Atkinson exhibited at the Royal Academy, British Institution, Society of British Artists and Society of Painters in Water Colours.
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