Cuming, William (1769–1852), portrait and history painter, was the youngest of four sons of William Cuming of Dublin and his wife, whose maiden name was Hamilton. As a child he visited the workshops of the coach and herald painters in Moore Street, Dublin, and decided that he wanted to be an artist. In 1785 he was placed as a pupil in the Dublin Society's school, where he was awarded the silver medal for figure drawing in 1790. He established himself as a history and portrait painter in Crow Street, Dublin, and was commissioned in 1793 by the city corporation to paint a portrait of Henry Gore Sankey, the former lord mayor. In 1795 he moved to his brother Hugh's house at 34 Anglesea Street. In 1800 he exhibited for the first time, to general approval, at the Society of Artists in Dame Street. He exhibited a self-portrait and his most famous work, which was a collaboration with the English painter Tilly Kettle, a portrait of James Gandon (qv). Kettle had painted the head and Cuming was considered to have completed the work successfully. He also painted historical subjects, and landscapes, including a panorama of the Curragh in Co. Kildare. A number of the lords lieutenant had Cuming paint their official portraits, and he was also well thought of as a painter of women. He was president of the Society of Artists in 1811, and was a founder member of the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1823. From 1829 until his retirement in 1833 he was president of the academy and, retaining an interest in its affairs, he was treasurer in 1835, and an honorary member from January 1837. He exhibited at the RHA from its first exhibition in 1826 until 1832, showing eighteen pictures in all. He was well-off and travelled widely, sometimes to visit his brothers Robert, in France, and Josias, who was a sugar planter in the West Indies. He never married, and his sister looked after his house. He died at his house in Lower Abbey Street on 5 April 1852, leaving a legacy to the RHA.
Cuming was fond of society and a good conversationalist, and counted George Petrie (qv), James Gandon, George Francis Mulvany (qv), and Thomas Moore (qv) among his friends. Somewhat unusually for a man in his position, he supported Daniel O'Connell (qv) in seeking the repeal of the act of union. His reputation as one who sought to improve the status of the artistic profession, particularly by encouraging the organisation of annual exhibitions in Dublin, outweighs the quality of his own paintings, which are no longer highly regarded.