Henry Pelham (1694-1754) and his Secretary John Roberts
- About the work
About the artist
Richard Houston was born in Dublin. As a young man he was apprenticed to engraver and publisher John Brooks and studied under Robert West at the Dublin Society Schools. Early in 1746 he moved to London with Brooks and engraver James McArdell, living near Fleet Street before establishing himself in Covent Garden, from where he published prints after contemporary portraits and works by Rembrandt. He also engraved portraits of racehorses for others. In 1758 his engraving of the King of Prussia, after Antoine Pesne, was published by Robert Sayer. From June to August 1765 Houston was an inmate of the Fleet Prison, reportedly for a debt owed to Sayer. Sayer later employed him to engrave further works before his death in London, in his early 50s.
John Shackleton settled in London in 1742. He was primarily a portrait painter and may have been a pupil of the portraitist and writer Jonathan Richardson the elder. In 1749, he succeeded William Kent as Principal Painter in Ordinary to King George II. However, although the subsequent king, George III, kept Shackleton in office, his official royal portraits were painted by Allan Ramsay. Shackleton was part of the committee who first proposed the founding of a Royal Academy of Art in London. He died in London in March 1767 and his will reveals the impressive collection of works of art that he assembled during his life, including pieces by Anthony van Dyck and Gian Lorenzo Bernini.