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Sir Frederic William Burton RHA (8 April 1816, Wicklow–16 March 1900, London); Irish painter, the third son of Samuel Frederick Burton and his wife Hanna Mallett.... Sir Frederick was the third director of the National Gallery, London." (Wikipedia)
Born in Ireland, as a young man Burton moved to London to make his living as a watercolor painter. Burton’s father, Samuel, was an amateur painter who encouraged his son. Prior to this, Burton attended at the Dublin Society’s Drawing Schools and began his career as a painter of miniature portraits. The antiquarian and artist, George Petrie, was a mentor and friend who brought Burton to Connemara in 1838 documenting and sketching Irish historical ruins and monuments. Their work was important in promoting an understanding of Ireland’s proud and ancient heritage in the mid-19th century. Petrie also encouraged Burton to become involved in the Royal Irish Academy.
Burton established himself in London as a painter of subject pictures and portraits.... Burton worked in watercolors throughout his career, no oils by him are known. He admired the work of the artists of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which was founded in 1848. He was appointed Director of the National Gallery in London in 1874 where he remained until his retirement in 1894. He acquired many significant works while Director, including Leonardo’s Virgin of the Rocks.
Described as a fastidious bachelor, quiet and unostentatious, he is overshadowed by characters like the charismatic first director, Charles Eastlake. But Nicholas Penny, the former director of The National Gallery (2008-15), has written that Burton effectively “created the National Gallery as we know it today”.