Henry Singleton, who is best remembered in India for his dramatic paintings of the Anglo-Mysore wars of the eighteenth century, depicting the Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan, was born in an English family of artists in London on 19 October 1766.
Following his father’s death when he was two years old, Singleton was brought up by an uncle, William Singleton, who had studied under the renowned English painter Ozias Humphry. Another uncle, Joseph Singleton, exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy, as did his sisters Sarah and Maria, who were trained miniaturists.
Showing talent for drawing and painting early in life, Singleton exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1780, a drawing that he had made when he was only ten. He entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1783, winning a silver medal in 1784 and a gold medal in 1788. From 1784, he exhibited at the Royal Academy every year till his death on 15 September 1839, showcasing nearly 300 works in all.
Singleton was a prolific and a versatile artist, who earned fame for his portraits, depiction of battle scenes, as also for religious, mythological, historical, Shakespearean and other literary subjects that he painted with great felicity. Many of his works were subsequently engraved.
He never travelled to India but worked as a propaganda painter recreating images of English victory in the subcontinent. His works are in the collections of the London institutions such as British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Royal Institution, and Tate Britain, as also in Edinburgh’s Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and Ulster Museum in Belfast.
'Henry Singleton was typical of the kind of painter produced by the Royal Academy in the late eighteenth century, who could turn his hand with equal facility to a wide range of subject-matter from heroic subjects to rustic genre'
'Masterpieces of Indian Modern Art'
DAG, New Delhi, 2016
'March to Freedom: Reflections on India’s Independence'