To further his career, Maclise travelled to London in 1827 and entered the Royal Academy in 1828. He was successful as a student and left with the gold medal for history painting in 1831. During the 1830s he developed a form of historical genre painting with a strongly literary flavour. Maclise's Romantic medievalism and Tory nostalgia for ‘Young England'. The theatre, and especially Shakespeare, was a lifelong interest of Maclise.
Maclise's mature style developed during the 1840s under the influence of continental art. The central event of Maclise's career was his commission to paint some of the mural decorations in the Houses of Parliament. Maclise became imbued with the high-minded ideals and style of contemporary German narrative art, which he related to themes that had personal meaning for him.
His large narrative subjects of the 1850s culminated in the cartoon of the Meeting of Wellington and Blücher for the Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster, which drew great acclaim when it was exhibited there in 1859. He completed the Meeting of Wellington and Blücher in 1861 and its companion, the Death of Nelson, in 1865. Both of these gigantic paintings have all the factual historical detail so esteemed by Victorian critics and public. Maclise's personality is elusive; he was charming and genial although shy, but became withdrawn and depressed in later life.
W. J. O'Driscoll: A Memoir of Daniel Maclise, RA (London, 1871)
R. Ormond: ‘Daniel Maclise', Burl. Mag., cx (1968), pp. 685–93
Daniel Maclise (exh. cat. by R. Ormond and J. Turpin, ACGB, 1972)
J. Turpin: ‘German Influence on Daniel Maclise', Apollo, xcvii (1973), pp. 169–75
——: ‘Daniel Maclise and his Place in Victorian Art', Anglo-Irish Stud., 1 (1975), pp. 51–69
T. S. R. Boase: ‘The Palace of History and Art: Painting', The Houses of Parliament, ed. M. H. Port (London, 1976), pp. 268–81
J. Turpin: ‘Maclise as a Dickens Illustrator', The Dickensian, lxxvi (1980), pp. 66–77
——: ‘Maclise as a Book Illustrator', Irish A. Rev., ii/2 (1985), pp. 23–7
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