POYNTER, Sir Edward John

1836 - 1919

Sir Edward Poynter

Edward John Poynter, was born in Paris on 20 March and baptised on 14 April 1836, son of architect Ambrose Poynter (16 May 1796-20 November 1886), an architect, and his first wife Emma née Forster (26 December 1800-1848), who married at the British Embassy Chapel, Paris on 26 December 1832, they returned to England soon after Edward's birth. Emma died at Westminster, London in 1848 and Ambrose married secondly in 1850, Louisa Noble (1811-1874). Edward was educated at Brighton College and at Ipswich School 1851-1852 and when his health deteriorated, his father considered him too weakly to follow him into his architectural practice and Edward spent his winters in Madeira and Rome. In 1853 he met artist Frederick Leighton (1830-1896), whose grandiose historical paintings encouraged 17 year old Poynter to pursue an artistic career. He studied at Leigh's Academy in Newman Street, London and at the Royal Academy Schools and then went to Paris to study in the studio of the classicist painter Charles Gleyre (1806-1874), where artist James McNeill Whistler (1834-1903) and cartoonish & writer George du Maurier (1834-1896) were fellow-students. Poynter became best known for his large historical paintings such as 'Israel in Egypt' (1867), followed by 'St George for England' (1869), and for a mosaic for the Central Lobby of the Palace of Westminster, depicting St George and the Dragon. Poynter held several official posts including the first Slade Professor at University College London 1871-1875, principal of the National Art Training School 1875-1881 and director of the National Gallery 1894-1904, during which time oversaw the opening of the Tate Gallery. Elected an Associate of the Royal Academy on 30 January 1869 and a Member on 24 June 1876 and in 1896, on the death of Sir John Millais, Poynter was elected President on 10 December 1895 and received a knighthood being made a baronet in 1902. He married in 1866 the famous beauty Agnes MacDonald (1843-1906), daughter of Revd George Browne MacDonald (1805-1868) of Aston, Warwickshire and his wife Hannah Jones, they had two sons Ambrose MacDonald (1867-1923) and Hugh Edward (1882-1868). His wife's sister Georgiana, married the artist Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898) another sister Louisa (1824-1925) was the mother of Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. Edward was of 70 Addison Road, London when he died on 26 July 1919. Poynter's old schools of Ipswich and Brighton held exhibitions of his work, Ipswich in 1982 and Brighton in its Burstow Gallery in 1995.

Works by This Artist