Nov 302011
 

In 1799 the seventy-year old Richard Hall was looking forward to the launch of a new magazine – to give it its correct title “The Naturalist’s pocket magazine, or compleat cabinet of the curiosities and beauties of nature : containing elegant coloured prints of birds, fishes, flowers, insects, quadrupeds, shells and other natural productions, with descriptions”.

It seems to have run to eight volumes containing 429 hand-coloured engravings, covering, as the title implies, just about everything in the flora and fauna line known to man.

Magazine001.jpg New Magazine

Some of the pictures are delightful. The extant magazines tend to have been broken up to make individual coloured prints and these are available for purchase at around £70 each (typically from dealers such as Grey Heron at http://www.greyheronprints.com/. So we see:

 

A Fennec or Zerda Fennec or Zerda

 

A Flying Maucauco Flying Maucauco

 

Grunting Ox A Grunting Ox (I wonder how they differ from the non-grunting variety?)

Some twenty five species of animal native to Australia are mentioned, many of them for the first time. The initial volume came out in 1799, with the remainder following over the next four years.

The Garrulous Roller, Garrulous Roller

The Green Goldfinch Green Goldfinch

The Man of War Bird Man of War Bird

The Magazine was indeed beautifully illustrated and I imagine that Richard would have considered it sixpence well spent. The images were certainly a far cry from the highly imaginative pictures in the school books Richard encountered as a child, and which I still have, with their unicorns and ape-dogs!

Nov 282011
 

Vauxhall Gardens

1761, June 11: went with Miss Boswell to Vauxhall Gardens

So Richard recalls his tryst with Miss Boswell – and him a married man! I am sure nothing improper occurred, although the gardens were not without their reputation for those who liked their encounters to be ‘en plein air’!

Vauxhall Gardens so impressed Canaletto when he visited London in the 1750’s that he departed from his usual theme of having either a river or a canal running slap through the middle of every painting and showed  a view of the gardens from the Grand Walk, painted in 1751. It shows the Gardens as they would have appeared to Richard  just a few years later.

Canaletto View of the Grand Walk, Vauxhall Gardens The Grand Walk at Vauxhall

On John Rocque’s map of London in 1747 the pleasure gardens were shown by their original name of New Spring Gardens. A helpful history of the site over a period of two centuries (the Gardens opened in 1661 and closed in 1859 ) is to be found at the Vauxhall Gardens website at http://www.vauxhallgardens.com/vauxhall_gardens_briefhistory_page.html

The website gives an account of what an evening’s supper consisted of:

“The Vauxhall supper usually took place at around 9 o’clock, as dusk fell. The chief part of the company having seated themselves in the arbours, five hundred separate suppers are served in an instant . . . the price of a bottle of French claret is 5s., of one cold chicken 2s.6d., a quart of cyder 1s., a quart of small beer 4d. a slice of bread 2d. of cheese 4d., and everything else in proportion, which raises an elegant collation to a high rate.

The most famous item on the menu was the legendary Vauxhall ham, cut so thin that you could read a newspaper through it. Besides cold meats, salad, and cheese, the Vauxhall menu also included custards, tarts, cheesecakes and other puddings, mainly to appeal to the younger generation.

During supper, one of the great special effects of Vauxhall was enacted. As night fell a whistle was blown as a signal to a number of servants placed in strategic parts of the garden. Each servant touched a match to pre-installed fuses, and, ‘in an instant’, over a thousand oil lamps were illuminated, bathing the gardens in a warm light that would have been visible for miles around. In the days before electric light, the effect was sensational, and was a constant attraction at the gardens.”

In 1749 a rehearsal of Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks in celebration of the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, brought 12,000 people to Vauxhall. Most visitors came by water.

 File:RoyalFireworks.jpg

Leopold  Mozart, proud father of the infant maestro Amadeus, accompanied his son to London in 1764, and wrote of the Gardens: ‘I thought I was in the Elysian fields, with a thousand glass lamps turning night into day.’

Diners would have dined in one of the fifty-odd supper boxes, each large enough to hold a dozen guests. The boxes were decorated with fine paintings, some of which have survived. The Vauxhall Gardens website continues:

“Vauxhall was also famous for its music. The Vauxhall song, which became a recognisable type in the second half of the 18th century, was the first truly popular music in this country. It was the first music to have a real mass audience (of over a hundred thousand each season) drawn from all sectors of society, and from all parts of Britain and overseas.”

So, what we appear to have it as an early version of  ‘The Proms’ with ham (albeit wafer-thin) thrown in!

File:Thomas Rowlandson - Vaux-Hall - Dr. Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, Mary Robinson, et al.jpg

Rowlandson’s take on Vauxhall Gardens dated 1779.The two women in the centre are Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire and her sister. It also features Dr Johnson, James Boswell and Oliver Goldsmith.To the right stands the Prince of Wales.

Boswell had this to say about his visit to the gardens: ‘Vauxhall Gardens is  peculiarly adapted to the taste of the English nation; there being a mixture of curious shows, – gay exhibition, musick, vocal and instrumental, not too refined for the general ear; – for all which only a shilling is paid . And, though last, not least, good eating and drinking for those who wish to purchase that regale.’

A perspective view of Vauxhall Gardens, London; published 1744

                 Above, a Perspective View, and below a General View of Vaux Hall Gardens, from around 1775:

   

Nov 272011
 

Long case clock In this way my ancestor Richard Hall noted that his long-case clock, bought in London some eight years previously, had been transported by Mr Endall, wagoner, to his new home in Bourton on the Water.

The clock, a monster at just under nine feet high, was made by Conyers Dunlop, a good clockmaker based in London. He had been apprenticed in 1725, four years before Richard was born, and went on to become Master of the Clockmakers Company in 1758. He made clocks until his death in 1779.

In more recent years the very height of the clock was to become a problem – I remember my mother moved into a ‘Granny flat’ with ceilings around seven feet six inches high. So she had a hole cut in the ceiling to allow an extra six inches (mostlytaken up with finials) to poke up out of view. Still it didn’t fit. A hole was cut in the floorboards and this allowed the clock to drop down between the joists so that visitors were greeted with a weird sight of a  ‘sawn-off clock’ emerging from the void and disappearing into the attic!

Only when I had the clock looked at by a professional was I told that the finials were all wrong, had been doctored, and that the original clock was never that tall….

Conyers Dunlop was a fine craftsman. I like the picture of a bracket clock which he made in 1760  and shown on the  Anthony Woodburn site at http://www.antique-english-clocks-and-barometers.com/

CONYERS DUNLOP, London, c1760

This is an eight-day clock with an hour strike and a pull quarter-hour repeat, using six bells.

Another bracket clock by the same maker is this one measuring some eighteen inches in height and described as being an eight day clock with a crown-wheel escapement. It is of green chinoiserie lacquerwork.

    The back plate is beautifully engraved.

The nearest I can get to a picture of Richard’s longcase clock (sold some ten years ago, unfortunately) is this one:

It is by Conyers Dunlop and is apparently a whopping 99 inches tall! It  is described in the auction details at the Woolley & Wallis website at http://woolleywallis.v2.webreality.co.uk/ as ‘a George III mahogany longcase clock, with an 8 day five pillar movement striking on a bell, with a 12 inch arched brass dial having a silvered chapter ring and subsidiary seconds dial’. And since you ask,the auction price for this particular specimen was four grand, probably rather less than the bracket clocks by the same maker (perhaps reflecting the fact that most modern houses simply cannot accommodate such a monster).

Other very helpful information about longcase clocks in the eighteenth century can be found at the website of P. A. Oxley Clocks at www.british-antiqueclocks.com

Nov 252011
 

British museum visit

Writing in 1760 my ancestor Richard Hall records in his diary: “October 8 – went with Mr Crouch to see the British Musæum”, He would have been amongst the very first visitors to the museum (it opened on 15th January the previous year) and was based in Montagu House. This seventeenth century mansion house  was situated on the current museum’s site and  allowed free admission to  ‘all studious and curious Persons’.

Well, Richard was certainly both of these, and would have loved what he saw. At its heart the museum housed two huge collections; one being the bequest from Sir Hans Sloane of some 71,000 items (natural curiosities, shells, fossils, books, coins medals and historical artifacts); and the other being the ‘Old Royal Library’ donated by George II (and with it the right to receive a copy of all published books).

Richard’s visit was before the wave of acquisitions of ancient sculptures which marked the Museum’s  development in the first half of the nineteenth century, So, no Rosetta Stone, no ‘Elgin Marbles’ but the Museum was already exhibiting its first Egyptian mummy (bequeathed to it in 1759).

Visitors like Richard would have applied in advance for an entrance ticket. It would have entitled him to enter Montagu House at a stated time. Admissions were in small groups, which were escorted, so there would have been no idle roaming of corridors, more an escorted introduction to items of interest.

My guess is that Richard would have been less interested in the books, manuscripts and prints but rather more in the shells and fossils. About this time Richard started his own collections – his  shells were mostly cowries brought back from the Indian and Pacific oceans. I still have some of them, ranging from shiny chestnut colours through rose to cream and fawn. They come in all shapes and sizes, some with stripes, some with spots, some plain. Unfortunately the Latin names, which Richard so carefully stuck on, have  all become detached and form a pile of anonymous labels at the bottom of a large bread bin which still houses the bulk of the collection. Over the years other family members added their own hoard of objects collected from the beach on family holidays, so now it is almost impossible to distinguish  18th, 19th and 20th century items.

The exceptions are the glowing giant cowries, simply because there is no way they could have been collected within European waters and would have been bought from sailors returning from Far Eastern voyages, or acquired from surplus collections (such as Don Saltero’s – about whom I have written before, and who Richard also visited. He records spending thirteen shillings  on that occasion, and since admission to Don Saltero’s was free if you bought a coffee it is fair to assume that  the thirteen shillings was spent on acquiring some of the natural curiosities on display there,  rather than on buying very expensive coffee! Many of Don Saltero’s items were available for purchase).

File:Different cowries.jpg

Picture (courtesy of Wikipedia) giving some indication of the type of shells which make up Richard’s collection. He also had two golden cowries, still prized in places like Fiji, where they were regarded as status symbols.

Photo: Close-up of a cowrie The  golden cowrie – they can grow up to four inches long (Richard’s are half that size).

Richard noted his fossils in a pocket book – the word to him included ‘anything dug upon from the ground’ and hence included emeralds, topaz etc. He jotted down their descriptions and qualities, and often drew them.   scan0042.jpg   

Many more details of what Richard did, what he collected, and what he saw, are set out in the Journal of a Georgian Gentleman. Sounds like a pretty good idea for a Christmas present….

Nov 232011
 

In the Seventeenth Century the longcase clock grew out of the brass ‘chamber clock’ or lantern clock which had a removable wooden hood (it had to be taken off every time the clock was wound up). The introduction of the pendulum, linked to a change from a balance wheel to an anchor escapement, led to much greater accuracy of time-keeping. Early pendulum clocks had to accommodate a swing of 100º which necessitated the use of  ‘wings’ at the side of the clock. In time a standard 39 inch pendulum was introduced (known as the royal or seconds pendulum). This swung every second and needed an arc of between 4º and 6º, so clock cases could be narrow, but needed to be long enough to hold the pendulum. In time the cases moved on from being a plain box into being elaborate and beautifully embellished carcasses. In England their style was much influenced by craftsmen from Holland, who came over with William of Orange in 1685.

Early Marquetry longcase clock with bolt and shutter maintaining power, C.1685.In the early years of the 17th Century the time keeping devices had been known as horologues – the clock was simply the striking mechanism but over the years the term ‘clock’ was applied to the entire mechanism. The terms “grandfather”, “grandmother”, and “granddaughter” have all been applied to longcase clocks. Although there is no specifically defined difference among these terms, the general consensus seems to be that a clock smaller than 5 ft is a granddaughter; over 5 ft is a grandmother; and over 6 ft is a grandfather. Other names are tall-case clock, or floor clock.

Typically these longcase clocks of the latter part of the 17th Century were adorned with corkscrew or twisted pillars, and the cases were elaborately embellished with marquetry, The wood was usually pine or oak, often blackened to look like ebony, with fruitwood decoration. The early clocks only had an hour hand and there were double circles where the numerals were, dividing the hours into quarters, the half hours being indicated by an ornament of extra length, like an arrow-head or fleur-de-lis. The engraving on clock faces and on the brass plates at the back was highly decorative. Borders, intricate rings about the winding holes, birds and flowers, were all introduced into the decoration, and the spandrels or ornaments at the corners became incredibly ornate. Early dials often had a line of verse in each corner such as one from 1681 bearing the words:

“Behold this hand,
Observe ye motion tip;
Man’s precious hours
Away like these do slip.”

In time verses gave way to angels heads, and cupids, and these made way for the scrolls and rococo designs of the 18th Century.

Thomas Tompion, known as the ” Father of English watchmaking,” had by 1658 attained much fame and status. He was succeeded by Daniel Quare, who had a shop at St. Martin’s le Grand, London, in 1676. Then came George Graham, an apprentice and protégé of Tompion, and he succeeded to his business in 1713.

The early clocks were thirty-hour mechanisms (i.e. they needed to be wound up once a day, with a six hour lee-way). Then came the eight day clock – much more expensive, and therefore immediately sought after. Eventually month and even one-year clocks were introduced.

By the middle of the 18th Century mahogany made an appearance, and then swept the board thanks to the efforts of men like Chippendale. Oriental styles were also popular, with lacquered painted decorations on an oak carcass.

An early arch dial, C.1725 with rare date ring to the arch.

The early clocks all had square faces, made of brass. In time more elaborate features – such as phases of the moon, date, silent/chime controls etc – led to an arc being added above the square (particularly after 1710). And then a total change came in – the vogue for painted dials. These started in the 1770s and within thirty years had largely replaced the brass dial. These early dials had simple decorations, such as birds or strawberries. By 1830 small painted scenes, in the corners and arch, were depicted on dials.

An early painted dial C. 1790 with blued diamond steel hands. Throughout the 1800’s the longcases got smaller. The finials disappeared and designs became simpler and less embellished. Manufacture in London slowed down and largely switched to Birmingham and the Midlands, and to Bristol and the West Country. Even worse, the vogue was for clocks with circular faces and hence rounded tops to their cases – a loathsome abomination which to my mind marked the end of the development of the longcase clock!

All the clocks featured here come from P. A. Oxley Antique Clocks. They have an excellent site at www.britishantiqueclocks.com and I am grateful to them for setting out a  helpful history of the longcase clock on their site.

 

Nov 182011
 

Born on 18 November 1787, Daguerre was a French painter and stage designer, who gave his name to the daguerreotype, the first practical and commercially successful photographic process.

Daguerre abandoned his architectural training in 1804, turning to scene painting at the Paris Opéra. In 1822 he developed the diorama, with help from Charles Boulton, and continued to make dioramas for 17 years. The diorama was a large-scale peep show in which a painting on a large translucent screen was seemingly animated by the skilful play of light on each side.

Daguerre used the camera obscura to make sketches for his stage designs and was looking for ways to avoid the tedious and repetitive tracing and copying which this involved. He surmised that it might be possible to achieve this chemically. In 1826 he got wind of the fact that J. N. Niépce was working toward the same end and had made some progress. Letters were exchanged and Niépce revealed to Daguerre his ‘heliograph’ process. In 1829 Daguerre and Niépce formed a partnership to develop the method.

The first commercial daguerreotype camera, from 1839.  

Heliography depended on the hardening action of sunlight on bitumen and the subsequent dissolution of the soft shadow parts of the image. Using this method on a glass plate, Niépce had obtained and fixed a photograph from the camera obscura in 1826. He wasn’t satisfied with this – he wanted to fix a visible image on to a photo-engraved plate, from which he could take prints. Experimentation led him to use bitumen on silver-coated copper-plates.

Building on Niépce’s work, Daguerre discovered the light sensitivity of silver iodide in 1831. His problem was to obtain a visible image, but in 1835 he discovered that the image present on a silver iodide plate exposed for just 20 minutes could be developed with mercury vapour. This was a major advance. By removing the unreduced silver iodide with a solution of common salt (1837) he was able to fix the image and make it permanent.

Louis Jacques Daguerre. Untitled (The first daguerreotype, plaster casts on window sill). 1837 The first daguerreotype, 1837, showing plaster casts on a window sill.

Daguerre approached the French Government in January 1839 with details of the process. The government agreed to pay him a pension for life and in return announced that the invention was free to the world. Well, other than in Britain. Here, a patent was taken out on behalf of Daguerre, leading to a period of litigation and stalemate with Fox Talbot who had come up with his own rather different method of recording pictures.

Daguerre was appointed an officer of the legion d’honneur and retired to Bry-sur-Marne in 1840 and died there on July 10, 1851. He had little more to do with the daguerreotype, leaving its improvement to others. It was perhaps the invention which most caught popular fancy in the mid-19th century, when millions of daguerreotypes were sold, but it proved to be a blind alley in the development of modern photography. In the end the Fox Talbot method, involving a negative image and a process whereby an unlimited number of positive copies could be made, was the commercial winner. I still have dozens of daguerreotypes of sturdy aunts and moustachioed uncles, edged in small brass frames and with red velvet covers. Hold the image at the wrong angle and you get a smudged mirror; tilt it correctly and a face from 150 years ago comes hauntingly to life.

So let us put aside mere feelings of national rivalry: happy birthday Louis! You played your part, and helped change the way we see our world.

File:Louis Daguerre 2.jpg

Nov 112011
 

Writing in 1780 Richard Hall records a trip to across the River Thames to Greenwich with his daughter Martha (a.k.a. ‘Patty’) to eat ‘White Bait’.

Greenwich whitebait

When I first read that I had no idea that Richard was right at the start of a craze which swept through the latter part of the century, and by the start of Victoria’s reign had become a firmly established feature on the political calendar.

The first recorded mention of whitebait on an English menu goes back to the early years of the 17th century, but it only became a craze in the 18th century. Shoals of tiny whitebait were abubdant in the tidal waters of the river Thames, and they were popularised as a dish by a fishmonger called Richard Cannon of Blackwall.  At different times of the year they might be baby herrings,  or young sprats – but the emphasis was on small fry, very young fish which could be eaten whole. They were caught fresh and within the hour would be rolled in flour and deep fried, then eaten hot, hot hot!

 

                                     Delcicious!    File:Whitebait.JPG

Over time it became the practice of the leading political parties to partake of whitebait in their favourite hostelries. The Michelin Green Guide to London tells us “In the Nineteenth Century Blackwell was associated with political whitebait dinners. The Brunswick Hotel and Tavern was built in 1835 by the East India Company and was patronised by members of the Fox Club  (followers of Charles James Fox); their political opponents headed by William Pitt the Younger, Gladstone and their Whig followers dined at Greenwich  (where the tradition of whitebait dinners still thrives at the Trafalgar Tavern.)”

These political gatherings lasted until 1883 – when Prime Minister William Gladstone held the last one at the Trafalgar Tavern. Ministers were carried from Westminster across the river to Greenwich in specially decorated barges.

In his Life of Frank Buckland, George Bompas describes what became an obsession as follows:

“1880 Her Majesty’s ministers when sitting down today at their whitebait dinner at Greenwich should not fail to recollect that the present year commemorates the hundredth anniversary of the eating of whitebait. It was in 1780 that one Richard Cannon, a fisherman of Blackwall first introduced whitebait as a savoury dish.  The proper whitebait season is considered by the principal fishermen to begin when parliament begins and ends when parliament ends. This is the rule they have gone by for many years past, or to put it in accordance with the Almanack, they  begin with their nets in February and go on until the middle of August.”

      articleimages/thewhitebaitdinnerorpartiesatgreenwich18671233102.jpg

A cartoon from Punch in August 1862 – and my apologies for not being able to decipher the name of the agency  (Heritage?) which reproduced it.On that basis Richard and his daughter were involved in the early days of a craze which went on for a century. The restored Trafalgar Tavern may still stock whitebait but you can be sure that they are frozen not fresh, and probably come from abroad since none are fished nowadays from the Thames at Blackwall….

And my chosen recipe? Well I have several, but will start with the Spanish one, using boquerones (unsalted anchovies):

List of Ingredients:

1 kilo of whitebait (ideally fresh, but otherwise frozen)

125 mls of red wine vinegar

4 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

1 small fresh red chilli, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper

75 grams of plain flour

Vegetable oil, for deep frying

Preparation Instructions:

Combine whitebait, vinegar, garlic, oregano, chilli and pepper in large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight. Drain the whitebait, pat dry with absorbent paper. Toss flour and whitebait together in large bowl. Deep fry whitebait in hot oil, in batches, until lightly browned. Drain on absorbent paper.

For a more English take on the dish, whitebait require little preparation. Toss the fish in well-seasoned flour (for devilled whitebait, small quantities of dried English mustard and cayenne pepper can be added to the flour), then shallow-fry in a few centimetres of hot oil until crisp and golden-brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve piping hot with lemon wedges and brown bread and butter. Alternatives include whitebait fritters and whitebait soufflé….

And a final note: the popularity of frying whitebait led to the development of the fish slice with holes cut in it to allow the drainage of surplus fat as the whitebait was scooped out of the frying pan.

Or as the website at http://www.mylearning.org/metalwork-objects-in-focus-millennium-gallery-sheffield/p-1835/ puts it:

“The earliest fish slices date to the first half of the 18th Century. They were …. triangular and pointed with pierced decoration. Their main function was to drain and serve deep-fried whitebait directly from the pan. After 1745, slices were often shaped like a fish. The strict dining etiquette that evolved during the 18th and 19th Centuries may account for this. Very specific items of cutlery and flatware evolved for use with particular foods during this time. To use the incorrect implement would be considered an enormous faux pas. By shaping the slice in the form of a fish, its intended use was clearly demonstrated.

This Old Sheffield Plate fish slice was probably made in Sheffield, around 1782. The blade is flat and in the form of a fish. It is decorated with chasing and pierced ornamentation, which was sawn by hand, requiring considerable skill.”

Old Sheffield Plate fish slice.

Nov 072011
 

File:Kneller self-portrait em.jpg Self-portrait

Godfrey Kneller (born Gottfried Kniller in Lübeck, Germany in 1646 and died  in 1723) was the foremost portrait painter of his age. He came to England in 1674 and following the death of Sir Peter Lely in 1680 he was appointed Principal Painter to the Crown, painting  half a dozen Kings and Queens, as well as hundreds of portraits of members of the aristocracy, usually in formulaic poses and clothing. He followed Lely’s example by painting a series of Hampton Court Beauties (being knighted by William III for his efforts) and also churned out dozens of portraits of members of the Kit Kat Club (politicians, writers, intellectuals etc).

In general I am not a fan – his pictures are too formal and ‘lifeless’ for my taste but here are a few I do like:

 Lady Henrietta Cavendish (now that is what I call a smart riding outfit!)

Sir Isaac Newton

 John Locke

                                                His Majesty King George II  

The portraits often started off with a simple chalk-on-paper drawing – this one from the National Gallery collection, consisting of the head of the composer Henry Purcell. In his ‘factory’ he would then paint the face via oils onto canvas, and pass the rest of the work to one of his staff  to finish off. It must have been a bit like the end-of-the-pier displays where you stuck your head through a hole and had your photograph taken  as if riding a horse, or wearing a sailor’s outfit or whatever! His paintings were generally full length rather than head and shoulders.

 
In 1709 he had a house built at Whitton near Twickenham – the house is now home to the Royal Military School of Music. In November 1723 he contracted a fever and died on 7th November. He is buried at Twickenham Church.
Nov 062011
 

By way of a post-script to my blog yesterday, I came across this cartoon lampooning the ‘macaroni painter’ Richard Cosway and thought I would add it…

18thcenturylove:   loquaciousconnoisseur: Robert Dighton “The Macaroni Painter is Richard Cosway, R.A., known for his foppish dress. The sitter, in full Macaroni regalia, appears entirely satisfied with himself.” (1772)  - Just a quick fact, Richard Cosway was the husband of Maria Cosway, the same Maria Cosway that Thomas Jefferson flirted with in Paris and to whom he wrote “A Dialogue Between My Head and My Heart”  I love love LOVE the macaroni with his ridiculous hat and hair!

By Robert Dighton, it is dated 1772. I love the splendid absurdity of both the artist and the sitter.

Nov 052011
 

Yes, there have actually been other things which happened on 5th November besides Mr Guido Fawkes and his failed plot ! This day in 1743 Richard Cosway was born in Tiverton, Devon. He was educated at Blundell’s School before being packed off to London as a twelve-year old. He quickly showed his exceptional talents as an artist, opening his own business as a painter in 1760. Before he was thirty he was sufficiently established to be one of the founder members of the Royal Academy  – an extraordinary achievement.

File:Cosway, Self-portrait.jpgHis specialities were portrait miniatures. This is a self-portrait done in 1770.

 

and this one, from the National Portrait Gallery, shows him in a slightly less dandy-ish pose:      File:Richard Cosway by Richard Cosway.jpg

In 1781 Cosway married the Anglo-Italian artist Maria Hadfield. It is far from certain that their marriage was more than a sham – he was twenty years her senior, a notorious libertine, but someone who took a keen interest in her career. He drew her on several occasions, including this lithograph.File:Richard Cosway - Retrato de Mrs. Cosway.JPG

The pair led somewhat separate lives, to the extent of travelling abroad with other partners, but when  they were in London together their salon in Pall Mall became extremely fashionable. His wife was nick-named ‘the goddess of Pall Mall’. Someone else gave him the epithet of ‘the little monkey.’ Their marriage was eventually annulled.

Cosway was a close friend of the future King George IV and in 1785 was reportedly awarded the title ‘Painter to the Prince of Wales (the only person to receive the title).  In his later years Cosway suffered from mental health problems, spending time in various institutions. He died in 1821. Here are a few examples of his works:

 

 Oil painting attributed to Cosway                                                                                                                                        Miniature, ‘unknown gentleman’

(With his miniatures Cosway was unusual in using transparent water colours on ivory, allowing the tone of the ivory to shine through).

He also did pencil sketches, as with this one of Emma Hamilton.Emma, Lady Hamilton, by Richard Cosway, circa 1801 - NPG 2941 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

Richard Cosway - Portrait of Lady Almeria Carpenter (1752-1809), Three-Quarter-Length,  in a White Dress with a Chiffon Shawl, in a Landscape      Portrait of Lady Almeria Carpenter, oil on canvas.

                                           And finally his portrait of Mrs Joseph Smith
                  Mrs Joseph Smith Lámina gicléeHappy birthday Richard, may your exquisite work  never be forgotten entirely!