Portrait painter Joseph Blackburn was likely born in Great Britain. His parentage and details of his early life are unknown. The
earliest record of Blackburn as a painter is his arrival in Bermuda in
1752. During his two-year stay there he painted at least
twenty-five portraits for the Pigott, Jones, Harvey, Tucker, Gilbert,
and Butterfield families. A number of these pictures remain on
the island in the hands of descendants.
In the best of these,
such as Mrs. Thomas Jones
, Blackburn exhibited a considerable skill at
painting lace and ribbon and other details of dress. This ability has
led some scholars to speculate that he was first trained as a drapery
painter in a larger English studio.
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