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Robert Dighton (1751-1814)

Robert Dighton (1751-1814)

The portrait artist, Robert Dighton, made a distinctive contribution to the art of the caricature, and founded a dynasty of caricaturists, who worked late into the nineteenth century. An actor and singer, as well as artist, he is credited with creating the genre of coloured prints of actors in their favourite roles.

Robert Dighton was born the son of John Dighton, a ‘paper-hanging maker’, of 65 Fetter Lane, London, and was baptised on 5 December 1751. Nothing is known about his childhood or early education, and he is first recorded as an artist in 1769, when he exhibited miniature chalk portraits at the Free Society of Artists; he continued to show there until 1773.

On 22 September 1771, Dighton married Letitia Clark of Duke Street, St James’s, at St Dunstan’s, Stepney. They would have two children, Letitia Sarah (born 1775) and Robert (born 1777). Entering the Royal Academy Schools in 1772, Dighton began to exhibit at the Royal Academy three years later (and would do so intermittently until 1799).

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