Wilson Online Reference
Edward Penny, R.A., 1714-1791
Connection to Wilson
Biographical Details
Edward Penny was a portrait, historical and genre painter who was sent to London to learn with Thomas Hudson, whose influence is clearly evident in his early portraits. He subsequently studied in Rome with the portrait painter Marco Benefiale. Penny developed a highly original amalgam of history painting and genre, infusing historical events with the quotidian and genre scenes with the gravitas of more elevated subjects. He exhibited almost yearly at the Society of Artists until 1768.

In 1764 he exhibited an innovative modern dress depiction of the death of General Wolfe. In 1772, after the success of Benjamin West's version, Penny's was engraved by Richard Houston. The next year he exhibited An Officer relieving a sick Soldier, which Horace Walpole noted as depicting Lord Granby. The theme of charity would become one of the most prominent in his work. Penny became the vice-president of the Society of Artists in 1765, a position he held until his resignation three years later. He then became one of the founders of the Royal Academy and was appointed the first Professor of Painting, which office he retained until 1783.

Penny seems to have been instrumental in arranging Wilson's commission to paint four major works at Ince Blundell Hall, near Liverpool [P71A, P119, P127 & P142]. In a diary entry of 28 October 1796, Joseph Farington stated, 'Wilson was at Ince & saw Mr. Blundells rooms before He painted the 4 pictures. Three are upright and one square form. - Penny reccomended [sic] Wilson to Mr. Blundell.' (Farington Diary, vol. 3, p. 683).
Patronage of Works
P92A River, Sea Coast and circular Ruin, Private Collection, England
Significant institutions
Society of Artists
Royal Academy