Painter. His reputation rests almost entirely on portrait miniatures, unrivaled by any other American artist's work in this genre. He occasionally painted larger works in oil. A native of Newport, Rhode Island, he may have received encouragement from Samuel King, but was apparently for the most part self-taught. In 1794 the young artist moved for two years to Providence where he found success with his miniatures. Later he worked in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston, South Carolina. In the spring of 1801 he sailed for London, where he sought advice from Benjamin West. A miniature portrait of his friend and traveling companion Washington Allston (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, c. 1801) exemplifies Malbone's finely detailed and delicate technique, his characteristically sensitive rendering of both features and personality, and his taste for decorative charm. After about six months abroad, Malbone returned to Charleston. For the next few years, he again traveled on the eastern seaboard, enjoying abundant patronage wherever he visited. Following an extended 1804–5 sojourn in Boston, he moved back to Charleston, already suffering from tuberculosis. By the early months of 1806 he was able to work very little. In search of a cure, he left for the warmer climate of Jamaica in December 1806 but remained there only briefly. In January 1807 he arrived at Savannah, Georgia, where he died a few months later.