Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait sketch of Richard James Lane 1800-72, Lithographer 1825c.

John Jackson 

Portrait sketch of Richard James Lane 1800-72, Lithographer, John Jackson
Oil on canvas
19th Century
17 1/2 x 15 1/4 inches
By descent to the sitter''s eldest daughter Clara Sophia Lane (1828-1912)
The leading lithographer of the nineteenth century, Richard Lane did much to further the status of his profession, culminating in 1865 with the admission of engravers to the honour of full academician of the Royal Academy, for which they had prevously not been eligible. Himself an Associate Engraver of the Royal Academy in 1827 and subsequently lithographer to Queen Victoria (1837) and the Prince Consort (1840), his distinguished career included his appointment in 1864 to the post of director of the etching class at the South Kensington Museum.

Born at Berkeley Castle, the second son of the Rev. Theophilus Lane (1764-1814), prebendary of Hereford and Sophia Gardiner (1762-1846). His mother was the executor of the will of her cousin Margaret Gainsborough, the daughter of the artist, and from this source Lane inherited an important group of the Gainsborough family portraits, including two self-portraits. In 1825 with Henry Briggs, who had inherited a group of Gainsborough's sketches he produced a series of lithographs from the drawings called Studies of Figures.

Lane was apprenticed to the London engraver Charles Heath at the age of sixteen and was to afterwards switch to lithography to earn a living. His prints were already attracting notice by 1824 and three years later his engraving of Sir Thomas Lawrence's Red Riding Hood earned him election as an associate-engraver of the R. A. He continued to produce high quality prints, which were well-received including a series of copies of Lawrence's portraits of George IV. He also lithographed several hundred pictures of the leading artist''s of the day including Leslie, Landseer, Richmond and his close friend Chalon. In total sixty-seven of his prints were exhibited at the Royal Academy.

It is almost certainly through the Royal Academy that he would have met John Jackson, a Yorkshire-born portrait-painter, who was elected a full-member of the Academy in 1817. Jackson painted a large number of his academicians, including Northcote, Bone, Stothard, West, Ward, Westmacott, Thomson, Shee, Nollekens, Flaxman, Dance, Soane and Chantrey. Our head-sketch has all the vivacious qualities of an intimate study and it seems probable the artist and sitter knew each other well.

Surprisingly no other oil portraits of Lane are recorded as surviving. A portrait (36 x 28) by John Prescott Knight was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1859 but is not now known.1 A miniature of Lane by Edward Robertson was exhibited at the R.A. in 1831. A pencil portrait-drawing by Edward Hodges dated 1839 is in the National Portrait Gallery and a self-portrait drawing in a private collection. A portrait of Lane was sold as an extra lot (177 B) in the Wheeler and Westoby sale of the property of the late Richard Gainsborough Dupont at Sudbury on 29 May 1874. Lane was not only an engraver, sculpting a a life-size seated statue of his brother Edward Lane in Egyptian dress (National Portrait Gallery). He also wrote Life at the Water-cure, which was published in 1846 and went to three editions. Besides his artistic circle Lane sought the company of leading figures in the opera and theatre. He himself had a fine tenor voice. Amongst his intimate friends were Charles Kemble, Macready, Fechter and Malibran.

1.Herman Dyson, John Prescott Knight: a catalogue, Stafford Historical + Civic Society, 1971.
2. Hugh Belsey, Gainsborough''s Family, Gainsborough''s House Society, 1988, Fig.22.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.