Nathaniel Dance - Painter

Nathaniel Dance

Born May 08, 1735
Died Oct 15, 1811

Alias: 

Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland

Biography: 

Self-portrait of Sir Nathaniel Dance-HollandA well known portrait painter of his day, later MP, and younger brother of Boswell's old thespian friend, James Love.

Nathaniel Love was the son of George Dance "the Elder", the well-known architect, and Elizabeth Gould. He studied art under the London painter Francis Hayman (1708-1776). As was the norm for many young artists in that era, he continued on to live and study in Italy for some time in the 1760s before returning to the UK. In 1768 he became a co-founder, together with his old mentor Hayman and Sir Joshua Reynolds among others, of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Over the ensuing years he became one of the most popular and respected portrait painters in England, being commissioned to paint such notabilities as James Cook, David Garrick and even King George III and Queen Charlotte.

He later served as a Member of Parliament for a total of 20 years, first from 1790 until 1806 (for East Grinstead until 1802 and then for Great Bedwyn), and again from 1807 until his death for East Grinstead.

In 1790 he married Harriett Bishopp (d. 1825), daughter of Sir Cecil Bishopp (1700-1778), 6th Baronet. He had Holland affixed to his surname in 1800, when he was also created Baronet, becoming Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland.

Life with Boswell: 

Nathaniel Dance was the younger brother of Boswell's old acquaintance, the actor-playwright James Love. On Friday, February 15, 1765 Boswell arrived in Rome as part of his Grand Tour. He reported in his journal that Dance came and breakfasted with him in his lodgings on the very next day. They appear to have met on several occassions over the next few months during Boswell's stay in the eternal city. The last record of any meeting between them in Rome is on May 24, 1765 when Boswell mentions having "met [Paul Henri] Mallet [yesterday] at Dance's"

It is unclear if or how well James Boswell and Nathaniel Dance were acquainted before their meeting in Rome in 1765.