Francis Alexander (1800-1881)

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Leete Farm, West Claremont, 1822

Francis Alexander was a well-known American portrait painter who was born in Killingly, Connecticut in 1800. Alexander grew up on a farm, but was more interested in sketching on barn walls than working the land. Alexander experimented with watercolors and drew extensively before receiving any academic training.


Portrait of Mrs. Robert Mackay

In 1820 Alexander moved from his rural town to New York City. Alexander was exposed to a number of artists and studied painting with Alexander Robertson. Alexander’s skill and interest in art grew, as well as his desire to travel. Alexander spent two consecutive winters in Rome, painting and exploring Europe.

Charles Dickens, 1842

Charles Dickens, 1842

Black Dan, 1835

Black Dan, 1835

Alexander made frequent trips to Boston, Massachusetts where he established his reputation as a portrait painter. Alexander may be most recognized for his portrait of Charles Dickens, which he painted in 1842. Painting Dickens’ portrait was a highly sought-after position in New England. Many of Alexander’s peers were jealous of his ability to work for high-ranking clients and Alexander painted numerous portraits of notable writers and wealthy patrons as well.

Madam Powel (Elizabeth Willing), 1825

Madam Powel (Elizabeth Willing), 1825


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