S. S. Wesley (1810–1876) was the most important nineteenth-century English composer of his generation. The illegitimate son of Samuel Wesley, Samuel Sebastian was known for his virtuoso organ playing (particularly his improvisations), his innovative church compositions – and his prickly personality. It was due largely to his awkward disposition that Wesley was constantly moving between posts: he was, at various points in his career, organist and choirmaster at Hereford, Exeter, Winchester and Gloucester cathedrals. In addition he spent seven years at the newly built Leeds Parish Church (1842–1849); and it was on the occasion of his departure from Leeds that this portrait was produced.
Where to see this painting?
Royal College of Music
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