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Posts Tagged ‘Angelica Kauffman’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Stothard
17 August 1755 – 27 April 1834

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Thomas Stothard

Thomas Stothard was born in London, the son of a well-to-do innkeeper in Long Acre A delicate child, he was sent at the age of five to a relative in Yorkshire, and attended school at Acomb, and afterwards at Tadcaster and at Ilford, Essex. Showing talent for drawing, he was apprenticed to a draughtsman of patterns for brocaded silks in Spitalfields. In his spare time, he attempted illustrations for the works of his favourite poets. Some of these drawings were praised by Harrison, the editor of the Novelist’s Magazine. Stothard’s master having died, he resolved to devote himself to art.

In 1778 he became a student of the Royal Academy, of which he was elected associate in 1792 and full academician in 1794. In 1812 he was appointed librarian to the Academy after serving as assistant for two years. Among his earliest book illustrations are plates engraved for Ossian and for Bell’s Poets. In 1780, he became a regular contributor to the Novelist’s Magazine, for which he produced 148 designs, including his eleven illustrations to The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (by Tobias Smollett) and his graceful subjects from Clarissa and The History of Sir Charles Grandison (both by Samuel Richardson).

From 1786, Thomas Fielding, a friend of Stothard’s and engraver, produced engravings using designs by Stothard, Angelica Kauffman, and of his own. Arcadian scenes were especially esteemed. Fielding realized these in colour, using copper engraving, and achieved excellent quality. Stothard’s designs had an exceptional aesthetic appeal.

He designed plates for pocket-books, tickets for concerts, illustrations to almanacs, and portraits of popular actors. These are popular with collectors for their grace and distinction. His more important works include illustrations for:

  • Two sets for Robinson Crusoe, one for the New Magazine and one for Stockdale’s edition
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress (1788)
  • Harding’s edition of Goldsmith’s Vicar of Wakefield (1792)
  • The Rape of the Lock (1798)
  • The works of Solomon Gessner (1802)
  • William Cowper’s Poems (1825)
  • The Decameron

His figure-subjects in Samuel Rogers’s Italy (1830) and Poems (1834) demonstrate that even in old age, his imagination remained fertile and his hand firm.

Art historian Ralph Nicholson Wornum estimated that Stothard’s designs number five thousand and, of these, about three thousand were engraved. His oil pictures are usually small. His colouring is often rich and glowing in the style of Rubens, who Stothard admired. The Vintage, perhaps his most important oil painting, is in the National Gallery. He contributed to John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, but his best-known painting is the Procession of the Canterbury Pilgrims, in Tate Britain, the engraving from which, begun by Luigi and continued by Niccolo Schiavonetti and finished by James Heath, was immensely popular. The commission for this picture was given to Stothard by Robert Hartley Cromek, and was the cause of a quarrel with his friend William Blake. It was followed by a companion work, the Flitch of Bacon, which was drawn in sepia for the engraver but was never carried out in colour.

In addition to his easel pictures, Stothard decorated the grand staircase of Burghley House, near Stamford in Lincolnshire, with subjects of War, Intemperance, and the Descent of Orpheus in Hell (1799–1803); the library of Colonel Johnes’ mansion of Hafod, in North Wales, with a series of scenes from Froissart and Monstrelet painted in imitation of relief (1810); and the cupola of the upper hall of the Advocates’ Library, Edinburgh (later occupied by the Signet Library), with Apollo and the Muses, and figures of poets, orators, etc. (1822). He prepared designs for a frieze and other sculptural decorations for Buckingham Palace, which were not executed, owing to the death of George IV. He also designed a shield presented to the Duke of Wellington by the merchants of London, and executed a series of eight etchings from the various subjects that adorned it.

He married Rebecca Watkins in 1783. They had eleven children, six of whom – five sons and one daughter – survived infancy. They lived in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, until 1794, when they moved to a house at 28 Newman Street, of which Stothard had bought the freehold. His wife died in 1825. His sons included Thomas, accidentally shot dead in about 1801; the antiquarian illustratorCharles Alfred Stothard, who also predeceased his father; and Alfred Joseph Stothard, medallist to George IV.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Francis Eginton
1737–1805

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Francis Eginton

Francis Eginton was the grandson of the rector of Eckington, Worcestershire, and was trained as an enameller at Bilston. As a young man he was employed by Matthew Boulton at the Soho Manufactory. In 1764 Eginton was employed as a decorator of japanned wares, but also did much work in modelling. During the next few years Boulton brought together a number of able artists at Soho, including John Flaxman and James Wyatt; and Eginton rapidly became a skilful worker in almost every department of decorative art.

Eginton was a partner with Boulton in the production of “mechanical paintings” or “polygraphs” The idea for these was in all probability taken by Boulton from a process modified by Robert Laurie (1755?-1836) from Jean-Baptiste Le Prince’s ‘aquatint’ engravings. Eginton perfected the method and applied it to the production of coloured copies of paintings. More plates than one were required for each picture, and after leaving the printing-press Eginton finished them by hand. They were copied from the works of Philip James de Loutherbourg, Angelica Kauffman and other artists, and varied in price from £1. 10s. to £21. The largest were 40 inches by 50. They were sometimes mistaken for original paintings, although these old “polygraphs” were in fact nearly identical to the varnished coloured oleographs which later became prevalent, the main difference being that the latter were printed lithographically.

F. P. Smith, then of the Patent Museum in South Kensington, maintained, in a paper read before the Photographic Society of London in 1863, that some of these polygraphs preserved at the museum were actually early photographs . This claim, however was untenable. Pioneering photographer, Thomas Wedgwood, had indeed made experiments upon copying pictures by the action of light upon silver nitrate, but the results then obtained would not have been capable of producing pictures of their size and character. The matter was finally settled by a series of pamphlets written by Boulton’s grandson, M. P. W. Boulton, in 1863-5, in which he gave an account of the whole matter. Furthermore, the leading lithographer Vincent Brooks was able to produce an exact imitation of the “ground” of one of the examples exhibited at South Kensington by taking an impression from an aquatint engraved plate on paper used for transfer lithography.

The “picture branch” of Boulton’s business was discontinued as unprofitable, the loss on this and the japanning trade being over £500 for 1780. The partnership between Eginton and Boulton was dissolved. Lord Dartmouth proposed to grant Eginton a government pension of £20 a year for his work on the picture copying process, but Boulton raised objections and the offer was withdrawn. For the next year or two Eginton appears to have continued to work at Soho, and to have begun in 1781 to stain and paint upon glass. In 1784 he left Soho and set up in business for himself at Prospect Hill House (demolished in 1871), which stood just opposite Soho.

Before Eginton the art of glass-painting had fallen into complete disuse. He revived it and turned out a long series of works in stained glass from his Birmingham factory. His first work of consequence was the arms of the knights of the Garter for two Gothic windows in the stalls in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, and his other works included:

  • Salisbury Cathedral (east and west windows, and ten mosaic windows) and Lichfield Cathedral (east window), after Joshua Reynolds,
  • The east window of Wanstead Church, Essex,
  • A large representation of the “Good Samaritan” in the private chapel of the Archbishop of Armagh,
  • A window in the chapel of the Bishop of Derry’s palace,
  • Memorial and other windows in Babworth Church, Nottingham,
  • Aston Church,
  • Shuckburgh Church,
  • Tewkesbury Abbey Church,
  • The windows of Merton College chapel, Oxford,
  • The ante-chapel of Magdalen College.

Eginton painted a window (20 ft. by 10 ft.) representing Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, in the banqueting room of Arundel Castle, and did a large amount of work for William Beckford at Fonthill Abbey, including thirty-two figures of kings, knights, etc., and many windows, for which he was paid £12,000. Much of his work was for export, and some of his best work ended up in Amsterdam. In 1791 he completed what was then considered his masterpiece, the “Conversion of St. Paul”, for the east window of St Paul’s Church, Birmingham, for which he received the “very inadequate sum of four hundred guineas”.

Eginton’s works were, in fact, transparencies on glass. He was obliged to render opaque a large portion of his glass, and thus covered up the characteristic beauty of the old windows. Eginton’s showroom was visited by all distinguished visitors to Birmingham. Lord Nelson, accompanied by Sir William and Lady Hamilton called there on 29 August 1802.

Eginton died on 26 March 1805, and was buried in Old Handsworth churchyard.

His daughter married Henry Wyatt, the painter; his son, William Raphael Eginton, succeeded to his father’s business, and in 1816 was appointed glass-stainer to Princess Charlotte. His brother, John Eginton, was a noted stipple engraver. His nephew, also called Francis Eginton, was also a notable engraver.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Benjamin West
October 10, 1738 – March 11, 1820

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Benjamin West

Benjamin West was an Anglo-American painter of historical scenes around and after the time of the American War of Independence and the Seven Years’ War. He was the second president of the Royal Academy in London, serving from 1792 to 1805 and 1806 to 1820. He was offered a knighthood by the British Crown, but declined it, believing that he should instead be made a peer. He said that “Art is the representation of human beauty, ideally perfect in design, graceful and noble in attitude.”

West was born in Springfield, Pennsylvania, in a house that is now in the borough of Swarthmore on the campus of Swarthmore College, as the tenth child of an innkeeper and his wife. The family later moved to Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, where his father was the proprietor of the Square Tavern, still standing in that town. West told the novelist John Galt, with whom, late in his life, he collaborated on a memoir, The Life and Studies of Benjamin West (1816, 1820) that, when he was a child, Native Americans showed him how to make paint by mixing some clay from the river bank with bear grease in a pot. Benjamin West was an autodidact; while excelling at the arts, “he had little [formal] education and, even when president of the Royal Academy, could scarcely spell”.

From 1746 to 1759, West worked in Pennsylvania, mostly painting portraits. While West was in Lancaster in 1756, his patron, a gunsmith named William Henry, encouraged him to paint a Death of Socrates based on an engraving in Charles Rollin’s Ancient History. His resulting composition, which significantly differs from the source, has been called “the most ambitious and interesting painting produced in colonial America”. Dr William Smith, then the provost of the College of Philadelphia, saw the painting in Henry’s house and decided to become West’s patron, offering him education and, more importantly, connections with wealthy and politically connected Pennsylvanians. During this time West met John Wollaston, a famous painter who had immigrated from London. West learned Wollaston’s techniques for painting the shimmer of silk and satin, and also adopted some of “his mannerisms, the most prominent of which was to give all his subjects large almond-shaped eyes, which clients thought very chic”. West was a close friend of Benjamin Franklin, whose portrait he painted. Franklin was the godfather of West’s second son, Benjamin.

Sponsored by Smith and William Allen, then reputed to be the wealthiest man in Philadelphia, West traveled to Italy in 1760. In common with many artists architects and lovers of the fine arts at that time he conducted a Grand Tour. West expanded his repertoire by copying works of Italian painters such as Titian and Raphael direct from the originals. In Rome he met a number of international neo-classical artists including German-born Anton Rafael Mengs, Scottish Gavin Hamilton, and Austrian Angelica Kauffman.

In August 1763, West arrived in England, on what he initially intended as a visit on his way back to America. In fact, he never returned to America. He stayed for a month at Bath with William Allen, who was also in the country, and visited his half-brother Thomas West at Reading at the urging of his father. In London he was introduced to Richard Wilson and his student Joshua Reynolds. He moved into a house in Bedford Street, Covent Garden. The first picture he painted in England Angelica and Medora, along with a portrait of General Monckton, and his Cymon and Iphigenia, painted in Rome, were shown at the exhibition in Spring Gardens in 1764.

In 1765 he married Elizabeth Shewell, an American to whom he became engaged in Philadelphia, at St Martin-in-the-Fields.

Dr Markham, then Headmaster of Westminster School, introduced West to Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Thomas Newton, Bishop of Bristol, James Johnson, Bishop of Worcester, and Robert Hay Drummond, Archbishop of York. All three prelates commissioned work from him. In 1766 West proposed a scheme to decorate St Paul’s Cathedral with paintings. It was rejected by the Bishop of London, but his idea of painting an altarpiece for St Stephen Walbrook was accepted. At around this time he also received acclaim for his classical subjects, such as Orestes and Pylades and The Continence of Scipio.

Benjamin West was known in England as the “American Raphael”. His Raphaelesque painting of Archangel Michael Binding the Devil is in the collection of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Drummond tried to raise subscriptions to fund an annuity for West, so that he could give up portraiture and devote himself to entirely to more ambitious compositions. Having failed in this, he tried—with greater success—to convince King George III to patronise West. The king’s first commission was a painting of the departure of Regulus from Rome. West was soon on good terms with the king, and the two men conducted long discussions on the state of art in England, including the idea of the establishment of a Royal Academy. The academy came into being in 1768, with West one of the primary leaders of an opposition group formed out of the existing Society of Artists of Great Britain. Joshua Reynolds was its first president.

In 1772, King George appointed him historical painter to the court at an annual fee of £1,000. He painted a series of eight large canvases showing scenes from the life of Edward III for St George’s Hall at Windsor Castle, and proposed a cycle of 36 works on the theme of “the progress of revealed religion” for a chapel at the castle, of which 28 were eventually executed. He also painted nine portraits of members of the royal family, including two of the king himself. He was Surveyor of the King’s Pictures from 1791 until his death.

He painted his most famous, and possibly most influential painting, The Death of General Wolfe, in 1770 and it exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1771. The painting became one of the most frequently reproduced images of the period. It returned to the French and Indian War setting of his General Johnson Saving a Wounded French Officer from the Tomahawk of a North American Indian of 1768.

West became known for his large scale history paintings, which use expressive figures, colours and compositional schemes to help the spectator to identify with the scene represented. West called this “epic representation”. His 1778 work The Battle of the Boyne portrayed William of Orange’s victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, and strongly influenced subsequent images of William. In 1806 he produced The Death of Nelson, to commemorate Horatio Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar.

St Paul’s Church, in the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, has an important enamelled stained glass east window made in 1791 by Francis Eginton, modelled on an altarpiece painted c. 1786 by West, now in the Dallas Museum of Art. It shows the Conversion of Paul. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1791.

Following a loss of royal patronage at the beginning of the 19th century, West began a series of large-scale religious works. The first, Christ Healing the Sick was originally intended as a gift to a Quaker hospital in Philadelphia; instead he sold it to the British Institution for £3,000, which in turn presented it to the National Gallery. West then made a copy to send to Philadelphia. The success of the picture led him to paint a series of even larger works, including his Death on a Pale Horse, exhibited in 1817.

Though initially snubbed by Sir Joshua Reynolds, founding President of the Royal Academy, and by some other Academicians who felt he was over-ambitious, West was elected President of the Royal Academy on the death of Reynolds in 1792. He resigned in 1805, to be replaced by a fierce rival, architect James Wyatt. However West was again elected President the following year, and served until his death.

Many American artists studied under him in London, including Ralph Earl, Samuel Morse, Robert Fulton, Charles Willson Peale, Rembrandt Peale, Matthew Pratt, Gilbert Stuart, John Trumbull, Washington Allston, Thomas Sully, John Green, and Abraham Delanoy.

West died at his house in Newman Street, London, on March 11, 1820, and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Elizabeth Smith-Stanley Countess of Derby
26 January 1753 – 14 March 1797

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Elizabeth Smith-Stanley

Elizabeth Smith-Stanley Countess of Derby was the eligible eldest daughter of the 6th Duke of Hamilton, she married the 12th Earl of Derby in 1774, giving birth to three children. Lady Derby was popular among society and considered a leader of fashion alongside the Duchess of Devonshire.

Five years after the marriage, Lady Derby embarked in a very public affair with the 3rd Duke of Dorset. She eventually separated from her husband, which caused a scandal and led to her effective exile from society, especially after it was learned that she would not be marrying the Duke. Lady Derby moved abroad, only returning once her husband attracted embarrassing press attention for his very public relationship with the actress Elizabeth Farren, whom he married soon after Lady Derby’s death in 1797.

On 26 January 1753, Lady Elizabeth Hamilton was born as the eldest child of James Hamilton, 6th Duke of Hamilton by his wife Elizabeth Gunning. Two younger brothers followed, and her father died in early 1758. The Duchess of Hamilton, considered one of the most beautiful women of the day, remarried in 1759 to John Campbell, Marquess of Lorne (later Duke of Argyll). This marriage gave Lady Elizabeth three younger half-brothers and two younger half-sisters.

By the time of her first London season, Lady Elizabeth (also known as Betty) was considered very eligible, with her name being linked to many young noblemen. In 1773, the wealthy Lord Edward Smith-Stanley came of age and pursued “a brief and fervent courtship” with Lady Elizabeth, holding an opulent party in her honour. The following year, during their engagement, he held an even more extravagant party with the young couple dressed in Anthony van Dyck-style costumes. On 23 June 1774, the two were married. Playwright John Burgoyne hosted a “glittering” assembly after the wedding, in which he wrote the comedy The Maid of the Oaks in honour of the occasion. The extravagant event included choreographed dancers, acrobatic troupes, famous opera singers, and – for the grand finale – a mock wedding attended by nymphs with Lady Elizabeth presented at its altar.

Elizabeth gave birth in quick succession to a son and two daughters. Lord Smith-Stanley succeeded his grandfather in 1776, becoming Earl of Derby, while Elizabeth became his Countess. With her new elevated rank, Lady Derby was popular in the beau monde and her actions garnered significant press attention. Along with the Duchess of Devonshire, she was considered a leader of fashion. In 1777, she organised a cricket match in which the two teams were populated with upper-class women, unusual for the time period.

During or near 1776, a painting of the family was done by Angelica Kauffman. Lady Derby’s mother is most likely the one responsible for commissioning this work, or it may have been gifted to her. Kauffman painted two versions of a sitting portrait of the earl, countess, and their son; one of these works is kept in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, though it is not on display to the public, while the other is in the custody of the family’s descendants. Sometime between 1776 and 1778, George Romney painted Lady Derby; the work is now displayed in the National Portrait Gallery.

In early 1778, rumours began spreading that Lady Derby was having an affair with John Sackville, 3rd Duke of Dorset, “the most notorious rake of the day.” His descendent Victoria Sackville-West later claimed that Sackville would disguise himself as a gardener at the Derby country estate of Knowsley Hall and climb through the Countess’ window at night, though another descendent, Robert Sackville-West, 7th Baron Sackville, believes this improbable. By May 1778, rumours of the affair were appearing in the press. That year, Lady Derby’s mother – unsuccessfully attempting to put down the rumours and show everyone there was nothing to hide – accompanied her daughter to the theatre. By August 1778, the Countess was openly living apart from her husband in the country amidst gossip that she was suing for divorce.

The affair shocked society and left her ostracised, though Dorset still remained friends with her husband and was even invited to Knowsley on occasion. Lady Derby lost much of the social capital associated with her status. At first, it was assumed that she and the Duke of Dorset would soon be marrying; this caused many of her acquaintances to refrain from snubbing her for fear that she would be returning with a higher status. During this short period, Lady Derby remained in the country while her husband ignored the situation and continued as he normally would have. However, over a year after the separation, the Earl of Derby announced his refusal to divorce his wife. Lady Derby’s return to society as a duchess – previously plausible – was ruined, as she was not freed to remarry. The children remained with the earl. Alan G. Crosby posits that “Derby’s steadfast refusal to divorce his wife and to grant her access to their children not only added to the sensation but also ruined the rest of her life.” Becoming a “chronic invalid,” she avoided London society and lived abroad until 1783; meanwhile, her family attempted to persuade the earl to allow for a reconciliation with his wife.

During this period, Lord Derby began a high profile – but unconsummated – relationship with the actress Elizabeth Farren. From 1781 onwards, the affair was much caricatured in the press, with Derby being comically described as a desperate man unable to convince Farren to a private audience. Amidst this attention, Lady Derby quietly returned to London and gradually began appearing at events, later moving in with her brother the 8th Duke of Hamilton. By 1784, she was accepted in society enough to again be seen accompanying the Duchess of Devonshire. According to historian Hannah Greig, it appears that Lady Derby’s social fate was tied to her estranged husband’s – as Lord Derby’s social capital decreased, hers went up.

No reconciliation ever occurred between husband and wife; instead, the Earl and Farren waited expectedly for Lady Derby’s death, which would free him for remarriage. The Countess of Derby died on 14 March 1797 of tuberculosis, and her widowed husband married Farren less than two months later, following her retirement from the stage. It is suggest that Lady Derby’s social crime was not that she openly consorted with the Duke, but that she left her husband, while Robert Sackville-West, 7th Baron Sackville states that her mistake was in not conducting the affair more privately.

Lady Derby gave birth to three children:

  • Edward Smith-Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby (21 April 1775 – 30 June 1851); married his cousin Charlotte Margaret Hornby, daughter of Reverend Geoffrey Hornby and the Hon. Elizabeth Smith-Stanley
  • Lady Charlotte (17 October 1776 – 25 November 1805); married her cousin Edmund Hornby, Esq., son of Reverend Geoffrey Hornby and the Hon. Elizabeth Smith-Stanley
  • Lady Elizabeth Henrietta (29 April 1778 – ?); married Thomas Cole, Esq.

Historian Peter Thomson suggests that the third child, Lady Elizabeth Henrietta, was the result of Lady Derby’s affair with Dorset. Despite this, the Earl of Derby cared for the child after his wife left him.

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Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland 1st Baronet
8 May 1735 – 15 October 1811

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Nathaniel Dance-Holland

Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland 1st Baronet was a notable English portrait painter and later a politician.

The third son of architect George Dance the Elder, Dance (he added the ‘Holland’ suffix later in life) studied art under Francis Hayman, and like many contemporaries also studied in Italy. There he met Angelica Kauffman, and painted several historic and classical paintings.

On his return to England, he became a successful portrait painter. With Hayman and his architect brother George Dance the Younger, he was one of the founder members of the Royal Academy in 1768.

He was commissioned to paint King George III and his queen, plus Captain James Cook and actor David Garrick. His group portrait The Pybus Family (1769) is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia.

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The Pybus Family (1769)

In 1790, he gave up his artistic career and became Member of Parliament for East Grinstead in Sussex. He served this seat until 1802 when he moved to Great Bedwyn, serving until 1806. In 1807 he returned to East Grinstead, serving until his death in 1811. He was made a baronet in 1800, which became extinct upon his death.

He was married to Harriet, the daughter of Sir Cecil Bishopp, 6th Baronet and the widow of Thomas Dummer (died 1781), for whom his brother had designed the house at Cranbury Park, near Winchester. They lived at Little Wittenham Manor in Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). His wife survived him until 1825.

His nephew, Sir Nathaniel Dance (1748–1827), was a well-known commander of British East India Company ships.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Dance the Younger
1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852

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George Dance

George Dance the Younger was the son of the architect George Dance the elder married Elizabeth Gould in 1719. Their fifth son, George, was born 1 April 1741 at the family home in Chiswell Street, London and was educated at St Paul’s School.

Dance spent the six years between 1759 and 1765 studying architecture and draughtsmanship in Rome. Aged 17, he set off on his Grand Tour, sailing from Gravesend, Kent in December 1758. After a short stay in Florence, where he was joined by his brother Nathaniel, who was already studying painting in Italy, he and his brother set off for Rome, arriving in early May 1759. By the early 1760s the brothers were living at 77 Strada Felice. At Rome, Dance was acquainted with the architect, James Adam, who was staying nearby at the Casa Guarini, Robert Mylne (they remained lifelong friends), Abbot Peter Grant and Giovanni Battista Piranesi.

As a student of the Accademia di San Luca, Dance measured and drew several buildings in Rome, including the three remaining columns of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Arch of Constantine and the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica, showing much promise as a draughtsman. Much of his later work was inspired by Piranesi. In late 1759 Dance received his first commission – to design two chimneypieces for Sir Robert Mainwaring. In early 1762 Dance was measuring and drawing the Temple of Vesta, Tivoli and later that year he entered a competition organised by the Accademia di Parma to design A Public Gallery for Statues, Pictures & c.. His drawings were dispatched to Parma in April 1763, and a few weeks later it was announced that he had won the Gold Medal, and his designs were exhibited at the Ducal Palace. The projected building was in the latest style of neoclassical architecture.

During June 1764 the Dance brothers were in Naples, but later that year they were back in Rome, entertaining the actor David Garrick and his wife. On the 21 December 1764 George Dance and his brother were elected to the Accademia di S. Luca, where he was described as Giorgo Danze, architetto Inglese. On the 16 February 1765 Dance dined with the painter Angelica Kauffman and James Boswell who was visiting Rome. A few weeks later the brothers left Rome to return to London.

On his return from the Grand Tour, George (the younger) joined his father’s office. His earliest London project was the rebuilding of All Hallows-on-the-Wall Church. He was one of five architects asked to submit designs, and his design was chosen on 8 May 1765. Work on the building starting in June 1765, at a cost of £2,941, and the building was consecrated on the 8 September 1767.

In 1768, when he was only 27, George succeeded as Architect and Surveyor to the Corporation of London on his father’s death. His first major public works were the rebuilding of Newgate Prison in 1770 and building the front of the Guildhall, London. Other London works of his include the rebuilding of the Church of St Bartholomew the Less (1793), a former chapel within the precincts of Barts Hospital.

At Bath, Somerset he largely designed the Theatre Royal, built by John Palmer in 1804-5.
Coleorton Hall was one of his few buildings in the Gothic style.

Many of Dance’s buildings have been demolished, including the Royal College of Surgeons, Newgate Prison, St Luke’s Hospital for Lunatics, the Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall, the library at Lansdowne House, the Common Council Chamber and Chamberlain’s Court at the Guildhall, Ashburnham Place, and Stratton Park (demolished save for its Tuscan portico). Dance retired from practice in 1815.

With his brother Nathaniel, George Dance was a founder member of the Royal Academy, founded on 10 December 1768. In 1795, with William Tyler, Dance was appointed to examine the accounts of the Royal Academy following the resignation of Sir William Chambers, and in 1796 they became the Academy’s first auditors, helping put the institution on a sounder financial footing.

In 1798 Dance succeeded Thomas Sandby as professor of architecture at the Royal Academy, but as he failed to deliver a single lecture he was dismissed in 1805 and replaced by his former pupil, Sir John Soane. For a number of years he was the last survivor of the 40 original Royal Academicians.

Dance’s years after 1798 were devoted to art rather than architecture. His Academy contributions consisted of highly finished pencil profile portraits of his friends in Regency London’s artistic establishment. 72 etchings were engraved after them by William Daniell and A Collection of Portraits were published over ten years from 1804. Many are now held by the National Portrait Gallery.

Dance married Mary Gurnell on the 24 March 1772 at St. George’s, Bloomsbury. Their first child, Thomas, was born in Autumn 1773. Two more sons followed: George and Charles Webb. Mary Dance died at the age of 38.

Dance suffered from ill health for the last three or four years of his life. He died on 14 January 1825, at No. 91 Gower Street. He was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral.

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Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

James Byres
1733 — 1817

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James Byres

James Byres of Tonley was a Scottish architect, antiquary and dealer in Old Master paintings and antiquities, a member of a family of Scottish Jacobite sympathisers who settled in Rome in 1758, where he became a cicerone to Scottish and English gentlemen on the Grand Tour until his return to Scotland in 1790. His house was in Via Paolina.

Byres was a painter and an adept designer, whose Vanvitellian design for a palazzo facade won a prize from the Accademia di San Luca in 1762. In Rome members of his circle were drawn by Angelica Kauffman in a sketchbook she used from 1762 to 1764: the portraits include the English painter Nathaniel Dance, Gavin Hamilton, and the abbé Peter Grant. By 1764 he was so well acquainted with the ancient sites and the cabinets of collectors that he took about a party of colonial Americans, including Samuel Powel of Philadelphia, who unlike his British peers, took assiduous notes.

William Constable purchased from Byres many of the Italian paintings and marble copies after Roman sculptures at Burton Constable, Yorkshire, and Byres was responsible for introducing the artist Anton Maron, who painted William Constable and his sister in the pose and dress of Cato and Marcia. Among the antiquities that passed through his hands, the most famous may be the Portland Vase, which he sold to Sir William Hamilton in 1770. Among the commissions for which he acted as agent was the Noli me Tangere of Raphael Mengs, 1771, for an altarpiece for All Souls College, 1771.

A clear idea of his own collection can be gleaned from a 1790 inventory made upon his return to Tonley. Though he sent many of his clients to Pompeo Batoni, the only Batoni portrait hanging in his house was of his sister Isabella, Mrs Robert Sandilands.

Concerning the Etruscans Byres formulated the hypothesis that Etruscan literature has not come down to us because it was purposely destroyed by the Romans.

Before he left Rome in 1790 he made a payment to the maître d’hôtel of Henry Benedict Stuart, Cardinal York in favour of the Duchess of Albany, illegitimate daughter of Bonnie Prince Charlie, so it may be inferred that his Jacobite sensibility ran deep.

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