Dixon, Samuel (d. 1769), watercolour painter and textile designer, was third of four sons of Thomas Dixon (d. 1758), hosier, of Cork Hill, Dublin. His younger brother, John Dixon (qv), became a noted mezzotint engraver in London. By 1748 he had established himself as a painter and picture dealer with a premises at Capel St., Dublin. In that year he advertised the completion of ‘. . . his set of flower pieces in basso relievo [sic] . . . a new invention’ (Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 26 Apr. 1748). These works, depicting decorative arrangements of flowers such as auriculas, carnations, and roses, were made by embossing designs on to coarse grey paper, which were then hand-painted in watercolour. Dixon was assisted in the colouring process by the young artists James Reily (qv) and Gustavus Hamilton, then students at the Dublin Society Schools. Following the success of his flower pieces, Dixon produced a set of paintings of birds, ‘a sett of curious foreign bird pieces’ (Faulkner's Dublin Journal, 4 Apr. 1749), again using his technique of basso rilievo. While Dixon was responsible for the original designs for his flower pieces, for his bird pieces he took the images from Natural history of uncommon birds by George Edwards (4 vols, 1743–51). The set of twelve pictures was dedicated to the earl of Meath. Between 1753 and 1755 Dixon produced another set of relief paintings, ‘Foreign and domestick birds’. Two works from this set, ‘A white headed parrot, tortoise-shell and rock underwing butterflies, an oak beauty moth and white muscadine grapes’ and ‘A bull-finch, a blue tit-mouse and a butterfly, with peaches and apricots’ are now in the collection of the NGI. With their strongly graphic design and somewhat naive quality, these paintings are characteristic of Dixon's style.
Testament to the success of these works were the problems that arose for Dixon during the early 1750s with imitators such as Mary Taverner of Aungier St. and Zachary Deane of George's Lane, Dublin. Dixon felt compelled to warn against this in a number of advertisements. In September 1755 he announced the disposal of his stock before his departure for England, where he remained for two years. He returned to Ireland after the death of his father (April 1758). By June of that year he had established a factory, in partnership with Thomas Taylor and Walter Johnson, at Leixlip, Co. Kildare, for the printing of linen and cotton. A number of premiums for copper plates designed by Dixon were awarded to engravers in 1758, in 1759, and again in 1763 when Patrick Fitzgerald of Skinner Row was awarded £5 for the engraving of a design depicting Hagar and Ishmael. Dixon petitioned parliament on a number of occasions for financial aid, stressing the importance of his business for the industry as a whole. Finally he received an award of £98. 1s. 3d. in November 1764. By this time his partner Taylor had died. This, combined with financial problems, seems to have caused Dixon to abandon the project at Leixlip despite its technical success in producing a superior product.
In early 1765 he moved to London, where he opened a shop selling pictures, though he returned to Dublin to start a similar business in April 1768. In the same year he exhibited three watercolours of flowers at the Dublin Society. He stayed in Dublin only a short time before returning to London, where he died 27 January 1769.