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Hamlet Winstanley: Painter, Engraver and One-Time Tutor to George Stubbs

Hamlet Winstanley (1698- 1756) was an English painter and engraver, also known to have briefly been a teacher to George Stubbs

Winstanley was initially self-taught as an artist, encouraged by John Finch, the rector of Winwich, to copy portraits in his collection. By 1713, Winstanley had moved to London, drawing in Godfrey Kneller’s academy and apparently receiving tuition from the eminent Kneller himself.

In or about 1721 Winstanley returned to Warrington, seeking to establish a local portrait practice and was commissioned to paint a portrait of a local nobleman, Sir Edward Stanley. The success of the portrait, led to to his introduction to James Stanley, 10th Earl of Derby, and the earl ordered him to come and paint for him at his seat at Knowsley Hall. Over the course of the following two years, he painted a number of landscapes and portraits at Knowsley, including one of the his patron.


At Lord Derby’s expense, Winstanley spent two years in Italy (chiefly in Rome), leaving in 1723 and returning in 1725.  The earl commissioned him to buy paintings and sculpture, providing him with an introduction to ‘Me. M’, a Jacobite exile and collector, which enabled Winstanley to copy various paintings in Roman collections for Lord Derby, including Raphael's Three Graces, Titian's Venus and Cupid, Annibale Caracci's Triumph of Bacchus, and Guido Reni's Aurora. Returning to London, Winstanley often acted as an agent for Lord Derby, bidding and buying on his behalf from auction houses andq dealers.

Throughout the rest of his life, Winstanley appears based in his native Warrington, frequently working at Knowsley as portraitist, copyist, and engraver. In around 1741, the fifteen or sixteen year old George Stubbs (1724-1806), who had been working in the family currier’s shop, was granted permission by his father to learn to paint - providing he find himself a good master. He approached Winstanley, who engaged him as an apprentice.  Winstanley granted Stubbs access to the collection at Knowsley, where Stubbs could carry out copying work. However, the association was short-lived; the young Stubbs rebelled, because he was not allowed to choose which paintings to copy, and because he disliked the idea of copying. He departed from Knowsley and Winstanley, 'vowing he wou'd for the future look into Nature for himself and consult and study her only'. Thus ended Stubbs's first and only experience of tuition in painting.


Dewlish House: Auction of Selected Contents
Lot 94 | Hamlet Winstanley (1698-1756) A portrait of a young lady, half-length, wearing blue silk gown with brown parted hair, oil on canvas, in faux oval surround | Estimate: £1000 - 2000

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