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OZIAS HUMPHRY (1742-1810)

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Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 892 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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OZIAS HUMPHRY (1742-1810), English miniature painter, was born at Honiton and educated at the Grammar School of that town. Attracted by the gallery of casts opened by the duke of Richmond, Humphry came to London and studied at Shipley's school; and later he left for Bath, where he lodged with Linley and became a great friend of his beautiful daughter, afterwards Mrs Sheridan. In 1766 he was in London warmly encouraged by Sir Joshua Reynolds, who was always interested in Devonshire painters. He was a great friend of Romney, with whom in 1773 he went to Italy, staying, on his way to Dover, at Knole, where the duke of Dorset gave him many commissions. In 1785 he went to India, visiting the native courts, painting a large number of miniatures, and making many beautiful sketches. His sight failed him in 1797, and he died in Hampstead in 181o. The bulk of his possessions came into the hands of his natural son, William Upcott, the book collector. From him the British Museum acquired a large number of papers relating to Humphry. He was Opie's first master, and is alluded to in some lines by Hayley. His miniatures are exquisite in detail and delightful in colouring. Many of the finest are in the collection of Mr J. Pierpont Morgan. See The History of Portrait Miniatures, by G. C. Williamson, vol. ii. (London, 1904). (G. C. W.) HUMUS (a Latin word meaning the ground), a product of decomposing organic matter. It is especially present in peat bogs, and also occurs in surface soils, to which it imparts a brown or black colour. It is one of the most important soil-constituents from the agricultural point of view; it is the chief source of nitrogenous food for plants, and modifies the properties of the soil by increasing its water-holding capacity and diminishing its tenacity. Little is known with regard to its chemical composition. By treating with a dilute acid to remove the bases present, and then acting on the residue with ammonia, a solution is obtained from which a mineral acid precipitates humic acid; the residue from the ammonia extraction is termed humin. Both the humic acid and humin are mixtures, and several constituents have been separated; ulmic acid and ulmin,in addition to humic acid and humin, are perhaps the best characterized.
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