Dobson, William

, an English painter, was born in London, in 1610. His father was master of the Alienation office; but “spending his estate upon women, necessity forced his son to be the most excellent painter that England hath yet bred.” He was put out early an apprentice to one Mr. Peake, a stationer and trader in pictures, with whom he served his time. Nature inclined him very powerfully to the practice of painting after the life, in which he had some instructions from Francis Cleyne; and, by his master’s procurement, he had the advantage of copying many excellent pictures, especially some of Titian and Van Dyck. How much he was beholden to the latter, may easily be seen in all his works; no painter having ever so happily imitated that excellent master, who was so much pleased with his performances, that he presented him to Charles I. This monarch took him into his immediate protection, kept him in Oxford all the while his majesty continued in that city, sat several times to him for his picture, and obliged the prince of Wales, prince Rupert, and most of the lords of his court, to do the like. Dobson \\as a fair, middle-sized man, of a ready wit and pleasing conversation; but somewhat loose and irregular in his way of living; and, notwithstanding the opportunities he had of making his fortune, died poor at his house in St. Martin’s-lane, in 1647. Although it was his misfortune to want suitable helps in beginning to apply himself to painting, and he was much disturbed by the commotions of the unhappy times tie nourished in, yet he shone out through all disadvantages; | and it is universally agreed, that, had his education and encouragement been answerable to his genius, England might justly have been as proud of her Dobson, as Venice of her Titian, or Flanders of her Van Dyck. He was both a history and portrait painter; and there are in the collections of the dukes of Marlborough, Devonshire, Northumberland, and the earl of Pembroke, several of his pictures of both kinds. 1

1 Biof. Brit. Walpole’s Antedates. Pilkington. Letter* by eminent Persons, &c. 18 13, 3 voU. 3vo.