English Painter, 1761-1807,English painter. He was born in a tin-mining district, where his father was a mine carpenter. He had a natural talent for drawing and was taken up by an itinerant doctor, John Wolcot (the poet Peter Pindar, 1738-1819), who was an amateur artist and had a number of well-connected friends. Wolcot taught Opie the rudiments of drawing and painting, providing engravings for him to copy and gaining him access to country-house collections. Opie's early portraits, such as Dolly Pentreath (1777; St Michael's Mount, Cornwall, Lord St Levan priv. col.), are the work of a competent provincial painter and owe much to his study of engravings after portraits by Rembrandt. His attempts at chiaroscuro and impasto in Rembrandt's manner gave his pictures a maturity that clearly startled contemporary audiences expecting to see works by an untutored artist. Thus in 1780, when a picture by him was exhibited in London at the Society of Artists with the description 'a Boy's Head, an Instance of Genius, not having ever seen a picture', Opie was hailed as 'the Cornish Wonder'. When he himself arrived in London, where he was promoted by Wolcot and his paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1781 and 1782, he was seen as a phenomenon, impressing even Joshua Reynolds, who is reputed to have remarked that Opie was 'like Caravaggio and Velasquez in one'.