English painter, draughtsman, decorative designer and museum official. Poynter entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1855 but his admiration for French painting led him to Charles Gleyre's studio in Paris the following year. Poynter first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1861 and during the next few years produced a series of small pictures of Egyptian and Classical subjects. He also continued to paint in watercolour, frequently exhibiting small-scale portraits and landscapes at the Dudley Gallery, London. During the late 1860s Poynter undertook a series of decorative commissions. He was also commissioned to decorate the lecture theatre apse at the South Kensington Museum.
Pea Blossoms, 1890
Chloe, Dulces Docta Modos et Citharae Sciens 1893
In 1871 he was appointed first Slade Professor at University College, London. During the 1880s and 1890s he continued to produce large classical pictures. He next worked on his most ambitious picture, the Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon (1884–90; Sydney, A.G. NSW; see fig.); its numerous figures and elaborate detail recall his earlier imaginative reconstructions of history. Increasingly, however, the majority of his exhibition contributions were small-scale, classical genre pictures. The latter part of Poynter's career was marked by increasing involvement in public office. From 1894 to 1904 he was Director of the National Gallery, London, the last practising artist to fill this position, and the purchases he made demonstrated an unusual catholicity of taste. He was knighted in 1896 and created a baronet in 1902. He was buried in St Paul's Cathedral, London.
Israel in Egypt, 1867
Corner of the Marketplace
Corner of the Villa
A Visit to Aesculapius
The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon