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Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Lawrence’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency (I include those who were born before 1811 and who died after 1795), today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Sir Charles Bell
12 November 1774 – 28 April 1842

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Charles Bell

Sir Charles Bell was born in Edinburgh the son of the Rev William Bell, a clergyman of the Episcopal Church of Scotland, who died in 1779 when Bell was a small child. Bell grew up in Edinburgh, attending the High School (1784-8) and Edinburgh University, where he took his medical degree in 1798. He conducted his surgical training as assistant to his elder brother John Bell.

He and his brother were artistically gifted, and together they taught anatomy and illustrated and published two volumes of A System of Dissection Explaining the Anatomy of the Human Body. Bell’s career was characterized by the accumulation of quite extraordinary honours and achievements – and by acrimonious disputes unusual even by the standards of medicine during the Regency.

Shortly after his graduation Bell was admitted to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, where he operated and taught anatomy. He and his brother published two additional volumes of their anatomical treatise in 1802 and 1804. Some aspects of his success, however, led to the jealous opposition of local physicians, and he was barred from practice at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. He then moved to London in 1804, where he set up a private surgery and school of anatomy. From 1812 to 1825, together with his brother, Bell ran the Great Windmill Street School of Anatomy, which had been founded by the anatomist William Hunter. He also served as a military surgeon, making elaborate recordings of neurological injuries at the Royal Hospital Haslar and famously documenting his experiences at Waterloo in 1815, where the anatomist Robert Knox commented very negatively on Bell’s surgical abilities; (the mortality rate of amputations carried out by Bell ran at about 90%). Bell was instrumental in the creation of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, and became, in 1824, the first professor of Anatomy and Surgery of the College of Surgeons in London. In 1829, the Windmill Street School of Anatomy was incorporated into the new King’s College London. Bell was invited to be its first professor of physiology, but resigned shortly afterwards. Wishing to return to Scotland, he accepted in 1836 the position of Professor of Surgery at the University of Edinburgh.

He was made a Knight of the Royal Guelphic Order in 1833.

Bell died at Hallow Park near Worcester in the Midlands, while travelling from Edinburgh to London, in 1842.

He is buried in Hallow Churchyard near Worcester.

Bell was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 8 June 1807, on the nomination of Robert Jameson, William Wright and Thomas Macknight. He served as a Councillor of the RSE from 1836-9.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London on 16 November 1826, was knighted in 1831 and, like Sir Richard Owen, was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Charles Bell was a prolific author. Shortly after arriving in London, he set his sights on the Chair of Anatomy at the Royal Academy, and, in furtherance of this career goal, he published Essays on The Anatomy of Expression in Painting (1806), later re-published as Essays on The Anatomy and Philosophy of Expression in 1824. In this work, Bell followed the principles of natural theology, asserting the existence of a uniquely human system of facial muscles in the service of a human species with a unique relationship to the Creator. After the failure of his application (Sir Thomas Lawrence, later President of the Royal Academy, described Bell as “lacking in temper, modesty and judgement”), Bell turned his attentions to the nervous system.

Bell published detailed studies of the nervous system in 1811, in his privately circulated book An Idea of a New Anatomy of the Brain. He described his experiments with animals and later emphasised how he was the first to distinguish between sensory and motor nerves. This essay is considered by many to be the founding stone of clinical neurology. However, Bell’s original essay of 1811 did not actually contain a clear description of motor and sensory nerve roots as Bell later claimed, and he seems to have issued subsequent incorrectly dated revisions with subtle textual alterations.

Bell’s studies on emotional expression played a catalytic role in the development of Darwin’s considerations of the origins of human emotional life; and Darwin very much agreed with Bell’s emphasis on the expressive role of the muscles of respiration. Darwin detailed these opinions in his The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), written with the active collaboration of the psychiatrist James Crichton-Browne. Bell was one of the first physicians to combine the scientific study of neuroanatomy with clinical practice. In 1821, he described in the trajectory of the facial nerve and a disease, Bell’s Palsy which led to the unilateral paralysis of facial muscles, in one of the classics of neurology, a paper delivered to the Royal Society entitled On the Nerves: Giving an Account of some Experiments on Their Structure an Functions, Which Lead to a New Arrangement of the System.

Bell also combined his many artistic, scientific, literary and teaching talents in a number of wax preparations and detailed anatomical and surgical illustrations, paintings and engravings in his several books on these subjects, such as in his book Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery: Trepan, Hernia, Amputation, Aneurism, and Lithotomy (1821). He wrote also the first treatise on notions of anatomy and physiology of facial expression for painters and illustrators, titled Essays on the Anatomy of Expression in Painting (1806). In 1833 he published the fourth Bridgewater Treatise, The Hand: Its Mechanism and Vital Endowments as Evincing Design.

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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 David Wilkie
18 November 1785 – 1 June 1841

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David Wilkie

(Note that while I have seen Wilkie’s painting in museums and have seen reproductions, I have a friend who had an original in her home—and that was wonderful! —DWW)

Sir David Wilkie was the son of the parish minister of Cults in Fife. He developed a love for art at an early age. In 1799, after he had attended school at Pitlessie, KingsKettle and Cupar, his father reluctantly agreed to his becoming a painter. Through the influence of the Earl of Leven Wilkie was admitted to the Trustees’ Academy in Edinburgh, and began the study of art under John Graham. From William Allan (afterwards Sir William Allan and president of the Royal Scottish Academy) and John Burnet, the engraver of Wilkie’s works, we have an interesting account of his early studies, of his indomitable perseverance and power of close application, of his habit of haunting fairs and marketplaces, and transferring to his sketchbook all that struck him as characteristic and telling in figure or incident, and of his admiration for the works of Alexander Carse and David Allan, two Scottish painters of scenes from humble life. Among his pictures of this period might be mentioned a subject from Macbeth, Ceres in Search of Proserpine, and Diana and Calisto, which in 1803 gained a premium of ten guineas at the Trustees’ Academy, while his pencil portraits of himself and his mother, dated that year, prove that Wilkie had already attained considerable certainty of touch and power of rendering character. A scene from Allan Ramsay, and a sketch from Hector Macneill’s ballad Scotland’s Skaith, afterwards developed into the well-known Village Politicians, were the first subjects in which his true artistic individuality began to assert itself.

In 1804, Wilkie left the Trustees’ Academy and returned to Cults. He established himself in the manse there, and began his first important subject-picture, Pitlessie Fair (illustration), which includes about 140 figures, and in which he introduced portraits of his neighbours and of several members of his family circle. In addition to this elaborate figure-piece, Wilkie was much employed at the time upon portraits, both at home and in Kinghorn, St Andrews and Aberdeen. In the spring of 1805 he left Scotland for London, carrying with him his Bounty-Money, or the Village Recruit, which he soon disposed of for £6, and began to study in the schools of the Royal Academy. One of his first patrons in London was Robert Stodart, a pianoforte maker, a distant connection of the Wilkie family, who commissioned his portrait and other works and introduced the young artist to the dowager-countess of Mansfield. This lady’s son was the purchaser of the Village Politicians, which attracted great attention when it was exhibited in the Royal Academy of 1806, where it was followed in the succeeding year by The Blind Fiddler, a commission from the painter’s lifelong friend Sir George Beaumont.

Wilkie now turned to historical art, and painted his Alfred in the Neatherd’s Cottage, for the gallery illustrative of English history which was being formed by Alexander Davison. After its completion he returned to genre-painting, producing the Card-Players and the admirable picture of the Rent Day which was composed during recovery from a fever contracted in 1807 while on a visit to his native village. His next great work was the Ale-House Door, afterwards entitled The Village Festival (now in the National Gallery), which was purchased by John Julius Angerstein for 800 guineas. It was followed in 1813 by the well-known Blind Man’s Buff, a commission from the Prince Regent, to which a companion picture, the Penny Wedding, was added in 1818.

Meanwhile, Wilkie’s eminent success in art had been rewarded by professional honours. In November 1809 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, when he had hardly attained the age prescribed by its laws, and in February 1811 he became a full Academician. In 1812 he opened an exhibition of his collected works in Pall Mall, but the experiment was unsuccessful, entailing pecuniary loss upon the artist.

In 1814 he executed the Letter of Introduction, one of the most delicately finished and perfect of his cabinet pictures. In the same year he made his first visit to the continent, and in Paris entered upon a profitable and delighted study of the works of art collected in the Louvre. Interesting particulars of the time are preserved in his own matter-of-fact diary, and in the more sprightly and flowing pages of the journal of Benjamin Haydon, his fellow traveller and brother Cedomir. On his return he began Distraining for Rent, one of the most popular and dramatic of his works. In 1816 he made a tour through Holland and Belgium in company with Raimbach, the engraver of many of his paintings. The Sir Walter Scott and his Family, a cabinet-sized picture with small full-length figures in the dress of Scottish peasants, was the result of a visit to Abbotsford in 1818. Reading the Will, a commission from the king of Bavaria, now in the New Pinakothek at Munich, was completed in 1820; and two years later the great picture of The Chelsea Pensioners reading the Waterloo Dispatch, commissioned by the Duke of Wellington in 1816, at a cost of 1200 guineas, was exhibited at the Royal Academy.

In 1822 Wilkie visited Edinburgh, in order to select from the Visit of King George IV to Scotland a fitting subject for a picture. The Reception of the King at the Entrance of Holyrood Palace was the incident ultimately chosen; and in the following year, when the artist, upon the death of Raeburn, had been appointed Royal Limner for Scotland, he received sittings from the monarch, and began to work diligently upon the subject. But several years elapsed before its completion; for, like all such ceremonial works, it proved a harassing commission, uncongenial to the painter while in progress and unsatisfactory when finished. His health suffered from the strain to which he was subjected, and his condition was aggravated by heavy domestic trials and responsibilities.

In 1825 he sought relief in foreign travel: after visiting Paris, he went to Italy, where, in Rome, he received the news of fresh disasters through the failure of his publishers. A residence at Toplitz and Carlsbad was tried in 1826, with little good result, and then Wilkie returned to Italy, to Venice and Florence. The summer of 1827 was spent in Geneva, where he had sufficiently recovered to paint his Princess Doria Washing the Pilgrims’ Feet, a work which, like several small pictures executed in Rome, was strongly influenced by the Italian art by which the painter had been surrounded. In October he passed into Spain, whence he returned to England in June 1828.

It is impossible to overestimate the influence upon Wilkie’s art of these three years of foreign travel. It amounts to nothing short of a complete change of style. Up to the period of his leaving England he had been mainly influenced by the Dutch genre-painters, whose technique he had carefully studied, whose works he frequently kept beside him in his studio for reference as he painted, and whose method he applied to the rendering of those scenes of English and Scottish life of which he was so close and faithful an observer. Teniers, in particular, appears to have been his chief master; and in his earlier productions we find the sharp, precise, spirited touch, the rather subdued colouring, and the clear, silvery grey tone which distinguish this master; while in his subjects of a slightly later period – those, such as the Chelsea Pensioners, the Highland Whisky Still and the Rabbit on the Wall, executed in what Burnet styles his second manner, which, however, may be regarded as only the development and maturity of his first – he begins to unite to the qualities of Teniers that greater richness and fulness of effect which are characteristic of Ostade. But now he experienced the spell of the Italian masters, and of Diego Velázquez and the great Spaniards.

In the works which Wilkie produced in his final period he exchanged the detailed handling, the delicate finish and the reticent hues of his earlier works for a style distinguished by breadth of touch, largeness of effect, richness of tone and full force of melting and powerful colour. His subjects, too, were no longer the homely things of the genre-painter: with his broader method he attempted the portrayal of scenes from history, suggested for the most part by the associations of his foreign travel. His change of style and change of subject were severely criticized at the time; to some extent he lost his hold upon the public, who regretted the familiar subjects and the interest and pathos of his earlier productions, and were less ready to follow him into the historic scenes towards which this final phase of his art sought to lead them. The popular verdict had in it a basis of truth: Wilkie was indeed greatest as a genre-painter. But on technical grounds his change of style was criticized with undue severity. While his later works are admittedly more frequently faulty in form and draftsmanship than those of his earlier period, some of them at least (The Bride at her Toilet, 1838, for instance) show a true gain and development in power of handling, and in mastery over complex and forcible colour harmonies. Most of Wilkie’s foreign subjects – the Pifferari, Princess Doria, the Maid of Saragossa, the Spanish Podado, a Guerilla Council of War, the Guerilla Taking Leave of his Family and the Guerilla’s Return to his Family – passed into the English royal collection; but the dramatic Two Spanish Monks of Toledo, also entitled the Confessor Confessing, became the property of the marquis of Lansdowne. On his return to England Wilkie completed the Reception of the King at the Entrance of Holyrood Palace – a curious example of a union of his earlier and later styles, a “mixture” which was very justly pronounced by Haydon to be “like oil and water”. His Preaching of John Knox before the Lords of the Congregation had also been begun before he left for abroad; but it was painted throughout in the later style, and consequently presents a more satisfactory unity and harmony of treatment and handling. It was one of the most successful pictures of the artist’s later period.

In the beginning of 1830 Wilkie was appointed to succeed Sir Thomas Lawrence as painter in ordinary to the king, and in 1836 he received the honour of knighthood. The main figure-pictures which occupied him until the end were Columbus in the Convent at La Rabida (1835); Napoleon and Pius VII at Fontainebleau (1836); Empress Josephine and the Fortune-Teller (1837); Queen Victoria Presiding at her First Council (exhibited 1838); and General Sir David Baird Discovering the Body of Sultan Tippoo Sahib (completed 1839). His time was also much occupied with portraiture, many of his works of this class being royal commissions. His portraits are pictorial and excellent in general distribution, but the faces are frequently wanting in drawing and character. He seldom succeeded in showing his sitters at their best, and his female portraits, in particular, rarely gave satisfaction. A favourable example of his cabinet-sized portraits is that of Sir Robert Listen; his likeness of W. Esdaile is an admirable three-quarter length; and one of his finest full-lengths is the gallery portrait of Lord Kellie, in the town hall of Cupar.

In the autumn of 1840 Wilkie resolved on a voyage to the East. Passing through Holland and Germany, he reached Constantinople, where, while detained by the war in Syria, he painted a portrait of the young sultan. He then sailed for Smyrna and travelled to Jerusalem, where he remained for some five busy weeks. The last work of all upon which he was engaged was a portrait of Mehemet Ali, done at Alexandria. On his return voyage he suffered from an attack of illness at Malta, and remained ill for the remainder of the journey to Gibraltar, eventually dying at sea off Gibraltar, en route to Britain, on the morning of 1 June 1841. His body was consigned to the deep in the Bay of Gibraltar. Wilkie’s death was commemorated by the English painter Joseph Mallord William Turner in the oil painting titled Peace -Burial at Sea.

An elaborate Life of Sir David Wilkie, by Allan Cunningham, containing the painter’s journals and his observant and well-considered “Critical Remarks on Works of Art”, was published in 1843. Redgrave’s Century of Painters of the English School and John Burnet’s Practical Essays on the Fine Arts may also be referred to for a critical estimate of his works. A list of the exceptionally numerous and excellent engravings from his pictures will be found in the Art Union Journal for January 1840. Apart from his skill as a painter Wilkie was an admirable etcher. The best of his plates, such as the Gentleman at his Desk (Laing, VII), the Pope examining a Censer (Laing, VIII), and the Seat of Hands (Laing, IV), are worthy to rank with the work of the greatest figure-etchers. During his lifetime he issued a portfolio of seven plates, and in 1875 David Laing catalogued and published the complete series of his etchings and dry-points, supplying the place of a few copper-plates that had been lost by reproductions, in his Etchings of David Wilkie and Andrew Geddes.

Wilkie stood as godfather to the son of his fellow Academician William Collins. The boy was named after both men, and achieved fame as the novelist Wilkie Collins.

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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.

Mary Elizabeth Frederica Mackenzie
1783 – 28 November 1862

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Mary Elizabeth Frederica Mackenzie

Mary Elizabeth Frederica Mackenzie was the eldest daughter and heiress of Francis Mackenzie, 1st Baron Seaforth. Also known as “Lady Hood Mackenzie”, or by the sobriquet “The Hooded Lassie”, she was married in turn to Vice Admiral Sir Samuel Hood and James Alexander Stewart of Glasserton.

Mackenzie was the subject of a portrait by Sir Thomas Lawrence and a prophecy attributed to the Brahan Seer. She was also responsible for introducing the first evangelical Calvinist preachers to the Isle of Lewis.

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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.

Louisa Manners Tollemache 7th Countess Dysart
2 July 1745 – 22 September 1840

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Louisa Manners Tollemache

Louisa Manners Tollemache 7th Countess Dysart was one of the daughters of Lionel Tollemache, 4th Earl of Dysart, the second of three to survive to adulthood. She and her elder sister, Jane, were educated at Mrs Holt’s School for Girls in South Audley Street, Mayfair.

The Countess married John Manners in 1765, the couple having eloped to Scotland from Ham House and Manners having thrown the key to the garden door back over the wall to prevent her from returning. At her father’s request the marriage was repeated at St James’s Church, Piccadilly.

The couple lived most of their lives at Ham House, spending some time at the other Tollemache family seat at Helmingham Hall, Suffolk.
They had ten children:

  • William Tollemache, Lord Huntingtower
  • Hon. John Manners Tollemache of Portman Square, co. Middlesex, was authorised by royal licence, dated 6 April 1821, to take the surname of Tollemache instead of Manners, and bear the arms of Tollemache. Married, Mary, daughter of Captain Benjamin Bechinoe, R.N., and widow of William, fourth Duke of Roxburghe.
  • Hon. Charles Manners-Tollemache, of Market Overton, co. Rutland, and Harrington, co. Northampton; was authorised by royal licence, dated 6 April 1821, to take the surname of Tollemache. Married, first, Frances, only daughter of William Hay, of Newhall, and niece of George, seventh Marquess of Tweeddale; Second Gertrude Florinda, daughter of General William Gardiner (brother of Luke, Viscount Mountjoy), and widow of Charles John Clarke;
  • George, died an infant.
  • Elizabeth Louisa, died an infant.
  • Sophia, died an infant.
  • Catherine Sophia; married Sir Gilbert Heathcote, 4th Baronet M.P.
  • Maria Caroline, married James, Viscount Macduff, afterwards fourth Earl Fife, in the Peerage of Ireland, K.T.
  • Louisa Grace, married Aubrey Beauclerk, 6th Duke of St Albans
  • Laura, married, John William Henry Dalrymple, afterwards seventh Earl of Stair.

A portrait of Louisa by Sir Joshua Reynolds was engraved by V. Green, and another by Hoppner, as a peasant, has also been engraved. Hoppner’s portrait was sold at Messrs. Robinson and Fisher’s rooms for 14,050 guineas on 27 June 1901. This portrait originally belonged to Louisa’s daughter, Lady Laura Tollemache, from whom it passed to Louisa’s granddaughter, Maria, Marchioness of Ailesbury, and finally came into the possession of the latter’s daughter-in-law, the Lady Charles Bruce, by whose executors it was sold. Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of Lady Louisa was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1794. Louisa was a notable patron of John Constable, entertaining him at Helmingham, Ham House and London residences at Pall Mall and in Picadilly. Constable’s letters make several references to Lady Dysart and he was evidently at ease with the family. Louisa employed his brother, Golding Constable, as gamekeeper at Helingham. Constable painted copies of Reynolds’ and Hoppner’s works, including a portrait of Louisa dated 1823. Others to derive works from Hoppner, Lawrence and Reynolds portraits of Louisa include Henry Bone, Charles Knight and Richard Smythe.

The death of John Manners 23 September 1792, when Louisa was aged forty-seven, bought the 30,000 acres (12,000 ha) of the Manners’ Buckminster estate into the Tollemache family. She succeeded her brother Wilbraham in the earldom of Dysart and barony of Huntingtower 9 March 1821, aged seventy-five, and on 13 March 1821 she, together with her only unmarried daughter, Laura, was authorised by royal licence to take and bear the surname and arms of Tollemache instead of Manners.

Increasing blind in her old age, Louisa died at Ham House, Surrey, 22 September 1840, aged 95, and was buried at Helmingham 8 October following. Not only did she survive her husband by more than half her lifetime, she outlived all of her children except her son, Charles. Her will was proved February 1841. She was succeeded by grandson, Lionel Tollemache, 8th Earl of Dysart, son of William, Lord Huntingtower.

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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 Richard Croft 6th Baronet
9 January 1762 – 13 February 1818

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Richard Croft

Sir Richard Croft 6th Baronet was born on 9 January 1762 at Dunster Park, Berkshire, the son of Herbert Croft and Elizabeth Young. He married on 3 November 1789, Margaret Denman, daughter of Dr. Thomas Denman and Elizabeth Brodie and the sister of Thomas Denman, 1st Baron Denman who became Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales.

They had four children: Sir Thomas Elmsley Croft, 7th Baronet; Sir Archer Denman Croft, 8th Baronet; Frances Elizabeth Croft; and the Reverend Richard Croft, rector at Hillingdon, Middlesex County, England.

He began his medical training under Dr Rupert Chawner, an apothecary/surgeon residing at Burton-upon-Trent. After he completed his training under Dr.Rupert Chawner, his parents sent him to London to complete his medical education. He became a pupil of Dr. John Hunter; and by recommendation of Dr. Matthew Baillie, (a fellow pupil of Croft’s and nephew of Dr. John Hunter) he boarded and lodged with Dr. Denman. Croft was also trained by his father-in-law, Dr. Thomas Denman, a preeminent obstetrician in London at the turn of the nineteenth century, whose textbook on childbirth had been first published in 1788. He graduated with his MD from the University of Oxford in 1789. He held the office of Physician to King George III.

He succeeded to the title of 6th Baronet Croft, of Croft Castle, County Hereford on 27 April 1816 upon the death of his brother, Sir Herbert Croft, who had died without a male issue.

When Princess Charlotte conceived in February 1817, Croft was chosen to attend her. Following medical dogma, Croft restricted her diet and bled her during the pregnancy. Her membranes broke 42 weeks after her last period on 3 November 1817. Her bedroom at Claremont was chosen as the labour and delivery room. The first stage of labour lasted 26 hours. At the beginning of the second stage of labour, Croft sent for Dr. John Sims, who arrived 7 hours later. The second stage of labour lasted 24 hours. He had correctly diagnosed a transverse lie of the baby during labour; however, forceps were not used as they had fallen into disfavour in the British medical community. A caesarean section at that time would have resulted in the princess’s death. Eventually, Princess Charlotte delivered a stillborn 9-pound male. Five hours later she died, presumably from concealed inner bleeding.

Although the princess’s husband and father sent messages to thank Croft for his care and attention, Croft was distraught over the outcome. The king ordered a necropsy, with the result that Sir Everard Home, 1st Baronet and Sir David Dundas, 1st Baronet reported that everything had been done for the best.

However, the death of the Princess continued to weigh heavily on Croft, and on 13 February 1818, at age 56, Croft killed himself with a gun. Near his body a copy of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost was found open with the passage (Act V, Scene II): “Fair Sir, God save you! Where is the Princess?”

Society portraitist Sir Thomas Lawrence was commissioned by Croft’s half-sister to create a posthumous portrait sketch of Croft in his coffin. The haunting result, now at Croft Castle, is often taken for a man sleeping.

Charlotte’s pregnancy is known in medical history as “the triple obstetrical tragedy”.
Both Croft and his wife are buried at St James’s Church, Piccadilly.

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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.

Charles Long 1st Baron Farnborough
2 January 1760 – 17 January 1838

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Charles Long

Charles Long 1st Baron Farnborough was born in London, he was the fourth son of West Indies merchant Beeston Long and his wife Sarah Cropp. A senior branch of the family of Hurts Hall in Suffolk established themselves in Jamaica after the conquest of the island in 1665 (see Edward Long). Educated at a private school in Greenwich and at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, Long matriculated in 1779, but is not known to have taken a degree. He was entered at the Inner Temple, later making the grand tour between 1786 and 1788, exploring Rome and laying the foundation of his art collection under the tuition of James Byres.

Long was a friend of William Pitt, whom he had met at Cambridge, and his involvement in politics began as early as 1788 when he was canvassing for Lord Hood, the ministerial candidate in the Westminster election, and he himself entered parliament in January 1789 as member for Rye, a Treasury controlled seat. He afterwards sat as member for Midhurst (1796–1802) and for Wendover (1802–06), (boroughs whose parliamentary representatives were nominated by Pitt’s friend Lord Carrington) and for Haselmere (1806–26), where the sole patron was the Pittite Earl of Lonsdale. Becoming junior secretary to the Treasury in 1791, he acted as parliamentary whip and teller and in 1796 on the government’s behalf, undertook much of the general election management. In 1801 when Pitt left office, Long followed, and was rewarded with a yearly pension of £1500. At Pitt’s behest he was appointed Treasury advisor to the Prime Minister Henry Addington, and in 1802 was sworn of the Privy Council.

The following year his house at Bromley Hill in Kent was the location for negotiations between Pitt and Addington, in which he was the chief intermediary. When Pitt returned to power in 1804 Long was made a lord of the Treasury (1804–06) and then chief secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (1805–06). He took office in the Portland ministry as paymaster-general of the forces after Pitt’s death in 1806, a post he retained until 1826 when he retired from politics. He was offered the Chancellorship of the Exchequer and the Secretaryship at War by Perceval, both of which he refused, considering himself neither inclined nor fit to fill either position. Except on matters arising from his ministerial responsibilities, he rarely spoke in the House of Commons. Rather than an initiator of policy, his strengths lay in his loyal and efficient political adjucations. In 1792 with Sir James Bland Burges, Long established the Sun newspaper as an instrument of the Tories, and he was the author of pamphlets on the French Revolution (1795) and the price of bread (1800).

In 1820 King George IV made Long a Knight of the Bath, and on his retirement from political life in 1826 he was raised to the peerage as “Baron Farnborough, of Bromley-Hill-Place, in the county of Kent”. (Farnborough was then a village in Kent, near his country residence). Long was elected FRS in 1792, FSA in 1812, and was given an honorary LLD by his old university in 1833. The arts were Long’s real passion, but due to limited resources he was unable to be a major patron or collector in his own right, however, as a minister and MP he was influential in furthering artistic causes such as the establishment of the National Gallery and the purchase of the Elgin marbles, and was a founder of the British Institution in 1805. He acted as intermediary in 1792 between Pitt and Humphry Repton over improvements to the former’s grounds at Holwood, and in 1799 when the Altieri Claudes were brought to England, they were first exhibited to English connoisseurs at Long’s house in Grosvenor Place. In subsequent years he maintained a high profile in connection with his public patronage of the arts. A committee of taste was appointed in 1802 to supervise the erection of monuments to the heroes of the Napoleonic wars, of which Long was chairman, and in 1809 the responsibilities were extended to the repair of Henry VII’s chapel at Westminster, with money voted by parliament. Long was consulted on everything from the need for a fig-leaf on the heroic statue honouring the Duke of Wellington, that had been subscribed for by the ladies of Great Britain (1821), to the appropriate order for the facade of the privy council offices in Whitehall (1824).

Long’s political ambitions were modest, though his retirement was nevertheless, a reluctant one. His reputation as an arbiter of taste led in 1834, to the opening of a campaign for the establishment of an Institution of British Architects, by way of an open letter to Lord Farnborough. He was an active trustee both of the British Museum and of the National Gallery, and as deputy director he was for many years a leading figure in the affairs of the British Institution. Long’s advice on artistic matters was valued at the highest level. George IV, both as prince regent and as king, consulted him frequently over the commissioning of architecture, sculpture and painting. The prince’s secretary once said that in matters of art, “The Prince Regent saw through Mr. Long’s spectacles”. Long negotiated royal commissions with artists such as Canova, Westmacott, and Lawrence, and when the king decided to reconstruct Windsor Castle, Long drew up a brief which detailed every important feature of the castle as subsequently remodelled by Jeffry Wyattville, from the formation of the Grand Corridor to the heightening of the keep, and he also made a sketch-plan in 1823 for the sunken garden below the east terrace.

Only a few miles from Pitt’s at Holwood, Long’s own country villa at Bromley Hill in Kent was an elegant enlargement of an earlier house which he bought in 1801. He and his wife were amateur artists and architects, and provided their own designs for the improvement to the house. The extensive grounds were progressively improved to create a much-admired garden which by 1809 offered two picturesque walks, each a mile long, and a distant view of the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral. It was here that Long entertained George IV, William IV, and Queen Adelaide. He died here on 17 January 1838, leaving to the National Gallery fifteen artworks by Rubens, Vandyck, Canaletto, Teniers, Mola, Cuyp, and others.

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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.

Thomas Lawrence
13 April 1769 – 7 January 1830

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Thomas Lawrence

Lawrence was born at 6 Redcross Street, Bristol, the youngest surviving child of Thomas Lawrence, a supervisor of excise, and Lucy Read, the daughter of a clergyman. The couple had 16 children but only five survived infancy: Lawrence’s brother Andrew became a clergyman; William had a career in the army; sisters Lucy and Anne married a solicitor and a clergyman (Lawrence’s nephews included Andrew Bloxam). Soon after Thomas was born his father decided to become an innkeeper and took over the White Lion Inn and next-door American Coffee House in Broad Street, Bristol. But the venture did not prosper and in 1773 Lawrence senior removed his family from Bristol and took over the tenancy of the Black Bear Inn in Devizes, a favourite stopping place for the London gentry who were making their annual trip to take the waters at Bath.

It was during the family’s six-year stay at the Black Bear Inn that Lawrence senior began to make use of his son’s precocious talents for drawing and reciting poetry. Visitors would be greeted with the words “Gentlemen, here’s my son – will you have him recite from the poets, or take your portraits?” Among those who listened to a recitation from Tom, or Tommy as he was called, was the actor David Garrick. Lawrence’s formal schooling was limited to two years at The Fort, a school in Bristol, when he was aged six to eight, and a little tuition in French and Latin from a dissenting minister. He also became accomplished in dancing, fencing, boxing and billiards. By the age of ten his fame had spread sufficiently for him to receive a mention in Daines Barrington’s Miscellanies as “without the most distant instruction from anyone, capable of copying historical pictures in a masterly style”. But once again Lawrence senior failed as a landlord and, in 1779, he was declared bankrupt and the family moved to Bath. From now on, Lawrence was to support his parents with the money he earned from his portraits.

The family settled at 2 Alfred Street in Bath, and the young Lawrence established himself as a portraitist in pastels. The oval portraits, for which he was soon charging three guineas, were about 12 inches by 10 inches (30 by 25 centimetres), and usually portrayed a half-length. His sitters included the Duchess of Devonshire, Sarah Siddons, Sir Henry Harpur (of Calke Abbey, Derbyshire, who offered to send Lawrence to Italy – Lawrence senior refused to part with his son), Warren Hastings and Sir Elijah Impey. Talented, charming and attractive (and surprisingly modest) Lawrence was popular with Bath residents and visitors: artists William Hoare and Mary Hartley gave him encouragement; wealthy people allowed him to study their collections of paintings and Lawrence’s drawing of a copy of Raphael’s Transfiguration was awarded a silver-gilt palette and a prize of 5 guineas by the Society of Arts in London.

Sometime before his eighteenth birthday in 1787 Lawrence arrived in London, taking lodgings in Leicester Square, near to Joshua Reynolds’ studio. He was introduced to Reynolds, who advised him to study nature, rather than the Old Masters. Lawrence set up a studio at 41 Jermyn Street and installed his parents in a house in Greek Street. He exhibited several works in the 1787 Royal Academy exhibition at Somerset House, and enrolled as a student at the Royal Academy but didn’t stay long, abandoning the drawing of classical statues to concentrate on his portraiture. In the Royal Academy exhibition of 1788 Lawrence was represented by five portraits in pastels and one in oils, a medium he quickly mastered. Between 1787 and his death in 1830 he would miss only two of the annual exhibitions: once, 1809, in protest about the way his paintings had been displayed and once, in 1819, because he was abroad. In 1789 he exhibited 13 portraits, mostly in oil, including one of William Linley and one of Lady Cremorne, his first attempt at a full-length portrait. The paintings received favourable comments in the press with one critic referring to him as “the Sir Joshua of futurity not far off” and, aged just twenty, Lawrence received his first royal commission, a summons arriving from Windsor Palace to paint the portraits of Queen Charlotte and Princess Amelia. The queen found Lawrence presumptuous (although he made a good impression on the princesses and ladies-in-waiting) and she didn’t like the finished portrait, which remained in Lawrence’s studio until his death. When it was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1790, however, it received critical acclaim. Also shown that year was another of Lawrence’s most famous portraits, that of the actress Elizabeth Farren, soon to be the Countess of Derby, “completely Elizabeth Farren: arch, spirited, elegant and engaging”, according to one newspaper.

In 1791 Lawrence was elected an associate of the Royal Academy and the following year, on the death of Sir Joshua Reynolds, King George III appointed him “painter-in-ordinary to his majesty”. His reputation was established, and he moved to a studio in Old Bond Street. In 1794 he became a full member of the Royal Academy. Although commissions were pouring in, Lawrence was in financial difficulties. His debts would stay with him for the rest of life: he narrowly avoided bankruptcy and had to be bailed out by wealthy sitters and friends, and died insolvent. Biographers have never been able to discover the source of his debts; he was a prodigiously hard worker (once referring in a letter to his portrait painting as “mill-horse business”) and didn’t appear to live extravagantly. Lawrence himself said: “I have never been extravagant nor profligate in the use of money. Neither gaming, horses, curricles, expensive entertainments, nor secret sources of ruin from vulgar licentiousness have swept it from me”. This has generally been accepted, with biographers blaming his financial problems on his generosity towards his family and others, his inability to keep accounts (in spite of advice from his friend the painter and diarist Joseph Farington), and his magnificent but costly collection of Old Master drawings.

Another source of unhappiness in Lawrence’s life was his romantic entanglement with two of Sarah Siddons’ daughters. He fell in love first with Sally, then transferred his affections on to her sister Maria, then broke with Maria and turned to Sally again. Both the sisters had fragile health; Maria died in 1798, on her deathbed extracting a promise from her sister never to marry Lawrence. Sally kept her promise and refused to see Lawrence again, dying in 1803. But Lawrence continued on friendly terms with their mother and painted several portraits of her. He never married. In later years two women would provide him with companionship, friends Elizabeth Croft and Isabella Wolff who first met Lawrence when she sat for her portrait in 1803. Isabella was married to the Danish consul Jens Wolff, but she separated from him in 1810, and Sir Michael Levey suggests that people may have wondered if Lawrence was the father of her son Herman.

Lawrence’s departures from portraiture were very rare. In the early 1790s he completed two history pictures: Homer reciting his poems, a small picture of the poet in a pastoral setting; and Satan summoning his legions, a giant canvas to illustrate lines from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. The boxer John Jackson posed for the naked body of Satan; the face is that of Sarah Siddons’ brother, John Philip Kemble.

Lawrence’s parents died within a few months of each other in 1797 and he gave up his house in Picadilly, where he had moved from Old Bond Street, to set up his studio in the family home in Greek Street. By now, to keep up with the demand for replicas of his portraits, he was making use of studio assistants, most notable of whom would be William Etty and George Henry Harlow. The early years of the nineteenth century saw Lawrence’s portrait practice continue to flourish: amongst his sitters were major political figures such as Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville and William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, whose wife Lady Caroline Lamb was also painted by Lawrence. The king commissioned portraits of his daughter-in-law Caroline, the estranged wife of the Prince of Wales, and his granddaughter Charlotte. Lawrence stayed at the Montague House, the residence of the princess in Blackheath, while he was painting the portraits and thus became implicated in the “delicate investigation” into Caroline’s morals. He swore an affidavit that although he had on occasion been alone with the princess, the door had never been locked or bolted and he had “not the least objection for all the world to have heard or seen what took place”. Expertly defended by Spencer Perceval, he was exonerated.

By the time the Prince of Wales was made regent in 1814, Lawrence was acknowledged as the foremost portrait painter in the country. Through one of his sitters, Lord Charles Stewart, he met the Prince Regent who was to become his most important patron. As well as portraits of himself, the prince commissioned portraits of allied leaders: the Duke of Wellington, Field-Marshal von Blücher and Count Platov sat for Lawrence at his new house at 65 Russell Square. The prince also had plans for Lawrence to travel abroad and paint foreign royalty and leaders, and as a preliminary he was given a knighthood on 22 April 1815. Napoleon’s return from Elba put these plans on hold, although Lawrence did make a visit to Paris, where his friend Lord Charles Stewart was ambassador, and saw the art that Napoleon had looted from Italy, including Raphael’s Transfiguration, the painting he had reproduced for his silver-gilt palette as a boy.

In 1817 the prince commissioned Lawrence to paint a portrait of his daughter Princess Charlotte, who was pregnant with her first child. Charlotte died in childbirth; Lawrence completed the portrait and presented it to her husband Prince Leopold at Claremont on his birthday, as agreed. The princess’s obstetrician, Sir Richard Croft, who later shot himself, was the half-brother of Lawrence’s friend, Elizabeth Croft, and for her Lawrence drew a sketch of Croft in his coffin.

Eventually, in September 1818, Lawrence was able to make his postponed trip to the continent to paint the allied leaders, first at Aachen and then at the conference of Vienna, for what would become the Waterloo Chamber series, housed in Windsor Castle. His sitters included Tsar Alexander, Emperor Francis I of Austria, the King of Prussia, Field-Marshal Prince Schwarzenberg, Archduke Charles of Austria and Henriette his wife, and a young Napoleon II, as well as various French and Prussian ministers. In May 1819, still under orders from the Prince Regent, he left Vienna for Rome to paint Pope Pius VII and Cardinal Consalvi.

Lawrence arrived back in London 30 March 1820 to find that the president of the Royal Academy, Benjamin West, had died. That very evening Lawrence was voted the new president, a position he would hold until his death 10 years later. George III had died in January; Lawrence was granted a place in the procession for the coronation of George IV. On 28 February 1822 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society “for his eminence in art”. The royal commissions continued during the 1820s, including one for a portrait of the king’s sister Sophia, and one of Sir Walter Scott (along with Jane Austen, one of Lawrence’s favourite authors), as well as one to paint King Charles X of France for the Waterloo series, for which Lawrence made a trip to Paris, taking Herman Wolff with him. Lawrence acquired another important patron in Robert Peel, who commissioned the painter to do portraits of his family as well a portrait of George Canning. Two of Lawrence’s most famous portraits of children were painted during the 1820s: that of Emily and Laura Calmady and that of Master Charles William Lambton, painted for his father Lord Durham for 600 guineas and known as The Red Boy. The latter portrait attracted much praise when it was exhibited in Paris in 1827. One of the artist’s last commissions was of future prime-minister the Earl of Aberdeen. Fanny Kemble, a niece of Sarah Siddons, was one of his last sitters (for a drawing).

Lawrence died suddenly on 7 January 1830, just months after his friend Isabella Wolff. A few days previously he had experienced chest pains but had continued working and was eagerly anticipating a stay with his sister at Rugby, when he collapsed and died during a visit from his friends Elizabeth Croft and Archibald Keightley. After a post-mortem examination, doctors concluded that the artist’s death had been caused by ossification of the aorta and vessels of the heart. Lawrence’s first biographer, D. E. Williams suggested that this in itself was not enough to cause death and it was his doctors’ over-zealous bleeding and leeching that killed him. Lawrence was buried on 21 January in the crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral. Amongst the mourners was J. M. W. Turner who painted a sketch of the funeral from memory.

Lawrence was famed for the length of time he took to finish some of his paintings (Isabella Wolff waited twelve years for her portrait to be completed) and, at his death, his studio contained a large number of unfinished works. Some were completed by his assistants and other artists, some were sold as they were. In his will Lawrence left instructions to offer, at a price much below their worth, his collection of Old Master drawings to first George IV, then the trustees of the British Museum, then Robert Peel and the Earl of Dudley. None of them accepted the offer and the collection was split up and auctioned; many of the drawings later found their way into the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum. After Lawrence’s creditors had been paid, there was no money left, although a memorial exhibition at the British Institution raised £3,000 which was given to his nieces.

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