Thomas Stothard is best known as the most successful and prolific book illustrator of his day. Born in London, he was apprenticed to a designer of silk patterns, but taught himself to illustrate novels and poems. He entered the R.A. schools in 1777 and later exhibited there. Although his large oil paintings are rare, he did complete works for Boydell's famous Shakespeare Gallery as well as for the Poetic and Historic Galleries of Bowyer and Macklin. In addition to which he executed mythological compositions on the staircase at Burghley and in the dome of the Advocates Library, Edinburgh.