Buck, Adam (1759–1833), artist, was born in Cork, elder son of Jonathan Buck, silversmith of Castle St. He appears to have been largely self-taught. Like his brother Frederick (1771–c.1840), a less talented artist, he practised in Cork, where he produced miniatures and small portraits in watercolour. He is also said to have worked in Dublin. Some of his best-known Irish commissions include oval portraits of the Kingston family and paintings (executed in 1787) of the family of Richard Lovell Edgeworth (qv). In 1795, having settled in London, he exhibited two marine views in the Royal Academy. This marked the beginning of a long association with the RA, where until 1833 he exhibited almost annually. His work was also shown by the British Institution, the Society of British Artists, and the New Watercolour Society in the year of its foundation (1832). In 1802 he sent over a single portrait in watercolour to the Hibernian Society of Artists. Many of his paintings – particularly small, sentimental genre works – proved popular as engravings and were used for decorative purposes. Buck was a talented lithographer, and lithographed some of his own work. He was also successful as a teacher of portraiture and a decorator of furniture. Later in his career he worked on fashion plates. He produced illustrations for a variety of publications, including Laurence Sterne's (qv) Sentimental journey and a series entitled The progress of life.
The most characteristic feature of his painting was an interest in the antique: Pasquin noted (1796) that Buck ‘appears to study the antique more rigorously than any of our emerging artists’. Many of his full-length portraits reflect this influence. His sitters included the prince of Wales; Sir Francis Burdett; Richard Lambert, 7th earl of Cavan (1763–1836); and the duke of York. In 1811 he issued a prospectus for a comprehensive work on Greek vase-painting. The poor response to this ambitious project resulted in his publishing a much more modest collection of classical drawings in the same year. He was most likely the same Buck, miniature painter of Frith St., Soho, who was listed by the authorities as being associated with United Irishmen in London c.1799/1800. He died in August 1833 at 15 Upper Seymour St., London, survived by his wife Margaret, a daughter, and two sons, Alfred and Sidney; the latter worked as an artist in London. Adam Buck's self-portrait in miniature (1804) is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.