Richard James Lane

(16 February 1800 - 21 November 1872)

A prolific English Victorian engraver and lithographer. The National Portrait Gallery has some 850 lithographs of his portraits and figure studies, done between 1825 and 1850. The images include portraits of royalty, society notables and theatre personalities

Life

The elder brother of Edward William Lane, and second son of the Rev. Theophilus Lane, LL.D., prebendary of Hereford, he was born at Berkeley Castle. His mother was a niece of Thomas Gainsborough the painter. At the age of sixteen he was articled to Charles Heath the line-engraver. In 1824, his prints were already attracting notice, and in 1827, when he produced an engraving of Sir Thomas Lawrence's ‘Red Riding Hood,’ he was elected an associate-engraver of the Royal Academy, although he had shown only a single print at their exhibitions. In later years, he helped obtain in 1865, the admission of engravers to the honour of full academician.

In 1837, he was appointed lithographer to the queen, and in 1840 to Albert, Prince Consort. In 1864, when he had almost given up lithography, he became director of the etching class in the science and art department at the South Kensington Museum, and retained the post almost till his death.

Among his close friends were Charles Kemble, William Macready, Charles Fechter, Maria Feliciá Malibran, and her operatic contemporaries.

Works

In 1829, he drew a well-known portrait of the future Queen Victoria, aged ten years, and he later executed portraits in pencil or chalk of the queen and most of the royal family at various ages, besides prints after Franz Xaver Winterhalter's portraits.

He turned from engraving to lithography. He produced in this medium Sketches from Gainsborough, and a series of copies of Sir Thomas Lawrence's portraits of George IV's cycle. He also lithographed several hundred pictures of the leading artists of the day, especially those of Charles Robert Leslie, Edwin Landseer, George Richmond, and his own special friend John James Chalon; in all 67 of his lithographs were exhibited at the Academy. The total of his prints reached the number of 1,046. He also tried his hand at sculpture, including a life-size seated statue of his brother, Edward Lane, in Egyptian dress.

His Life at the Water-cure, 1846, went to three editions. He also edited Charles Kemble's Readings from Shakspeare in 3 vols. in 1870.

Family

Lane married, 10 November 1825, Sophia Hodges, by whom he had two sons (who predeceased him) and three daughters. en.wikipedia




LANE, RICHARD JAMES (1800–1872), line-engraver and lithographer, elder brother of Edward William Lane [q.v.], and second son of the Rev. Theophilus Lane, LL.D., prebendary of Hereford, was born at Berkeley Castle. His mother was a niece of Gainsborough the painter. From his child-hood he showed a preference for mechanical and artistic work rather than scholarship, and at the age of sixteen he was articled to Charles Heath the line-engraver. In 1824, his prints were already attracting notice, and in 1827, when he produced and admirable engraving of Sir Thomas Lawrence’s ‘Red Riding Hood,’ he was elected an associate-engraver of the Royal Academy, although he had shown so far only a single print at their exhibitions. In later years, when he had no personal interest to serve, he was largely instrumental in obtaining, in 1865, the admission of engravers to the honour of full academician, for which they were previously not eligible. His peculiar delicacy and tenderness to touch were conspicuous in his pencil and chalk sketches, of which he executed a large number, representing most of the best-known people of the day. In 1829, he drew his well known portrait of the queen, then Princess Victoria, aged ten years, and he afterwards executed portraits in pencil or chalk of the queen and most of the royal family at various ages, besides prints after Winterhalter's portraits.

Meanwhile he had turned from engraving to lithography, then a newly discovered art, in which attained a delicacy and refinement which have never been surpassed. Among the best examples of this branch of his his work are the deliqhtful ‘Sketches from Gainsborough,' in which be reproduced his great-uncle's charm with marvelous fidelity; and the scarcely less admirable series of copies of Sir Thomas Lawrence’s portraits of George IV's cycle, which are almost deceptive in their imitative skill. He also lithographed several hundred pictures of the leading artists of the day, especially those of Leslie, Landseer, Richmond, a his own special friend, Chalon, and no less than sixty-seven of his lithographs were exhibited at the Academy. The total of his prints reached the number of 1,046. He also tried his hand at sculpture with such success as to attract the admiration the admiration of Chantrey, his most important work in this branch of art being a life-size seated statue of his brother, Edward Lane, in Egyptian dress. In 1837, he was appointed lithographer to the queen, and in 1840, to the prince consort. In 1864, when he had almost given up lithography he became director of the etching class in the science and art department at at South Kensington and retained the post against till his death.

Lane's pre-eminent gifts were a sensitive sympathy in interpretation of his subjects, and a delicacy and precision of touch, in which, as a lithographer, he had no rival. In spite of the ‘woolliness' of the material his fine pencil gave a sharpness and brilliancy to his lithographs, which were carried as far in elaboration as a finished line-engraving, for which, indeed, at first sight, they might almost be mistaken. Personally, his social qualities were of an unusual order; his graceful courtesy of the old school, his powers of recitation and marvellous memory, and his fine tenor voice contributed to his popularity. Besides his own artistic circle he was especially at home among the leaders of the opera and theatre, and among his intimate friends were Charles Kemble (whose Readings from Shakspeare he edited in 3 vols. in 1870), Macready, Fechter, Malibran, and her brilliant operatic contemporaries. His literary work was limited to some sketches of Life at the Water-cure, 1846, which went to three editions.

Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 32, by Stanley Lane-Poole; Magazine of Art, 1881; Athenæum, 29 November 1872.]


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