John Hoppner was an English portrait painter.
He was born in Whitechapel. His father was of German extraction and his mother was one of the German attendants at the Royal Palace. Hoppner consequently received the patronage of George III, whose regard for him gave rise to unfounded scandal. As a boy, he was a chorister at the Royal Chapel, but showing strong inclination for art, in 1775, he became a student at the Royal Academy. In 1778 he took a silver medal for drawing from life, and in 1782 the Academy’s highest award, the gold medal, for historical painting, his subject being King Lear.
He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1780. He preferred landscapes but turned to the more lucrative business of portrait painting. At once successful, he had throughout his life the most fashionable and wealthy sitters, and was the greatest rival of Thomas Lawrence (1769-1830). The Prince of Wales often visited him and many of his finest portraits are at St. James’s Palace. Amongst his other sitters were Sir Walter Scott, the Duke of Wellington and Sir George Beaumont.
His most successful works were portraits of women and children. A Series of Portraits of Ladies was published in 1803. His works were admired for the brilliance and harmony of their colouring, but most of them suffered a great depreciation due to time and destructive mediums. However, some of his pictures in good condition showed that his fame as a brilliant colourist was well-founded.