Clarkson Frederick Stanfield
(Sunderland, 3 December 1793 - 18 May 1867, Hampstead, London
Stanfield probably inherited artistic talent from his mother, who is said to have been an artist but died in 1801. He was briefly apprenticed to a coach decorator in 1806, but left owing to the drunkenness of his master's wife and joined a South Shields collier to become a sailor. In 1808, he was pressed into the Royal Navy, serving in the guardship HMS Namur at Sheerness. Discharged on health grounds in 1814, he then made a voyage to China in 1815, on the East Indiaman Warley and returned with many sketches.
In August 1816, Stanfield was engaged as a decorator and scene-painter at the Royalty Theatre in Wellclose Square, London. Along with David Roberts he was afterwards employed at the Coburg theatre, Lambeth, and in 1823, he became a resident scene-painter at the Drury Lane theatre, where he rose rapidly to fame through the huge quantity of spectacular scenery which he produced for that house until 1834.
Stanfield abandoned scenery painting after Christmas 1834 -- though he made exceptions for two personal friends. He designed scenery for the stage productions of William Charles Macready, and for the amateur theatricals of Charles Dickens.
Stanfield partnered with David Roberts in several large-scale diorama and panorama projects in the 1820s and 1830s. The newest development in these popular entertainments was the "moving diorama" or "moving panorama." These consisted of huge paintings that unfolded upon rollers like giant scrolls; they were supplemented with sound and lighting effects to create a nineteenth-century anticipation of cinema. Stanfield and Roberts produced eight of these entertainments; in light of their later accomplishments as marine painters, their panoramas of two important naval engagements, the "Bombardment of Algiers" and "The Battle of Navarino", are worth noting.
An 1830 tour through Germany and Italy furnished Stanfield with material for two more moving panoramas, "The Military Pass of the Simplon" (1830), and "Venice and Its Adjacent Islands" (1831). Stanfield executed the first in only eleven days; it earned him a fee of £300. The Venetian panorama of the next year was 300 feet long and 20 high; gas lit, it unrolled through 15 or 20 minutes. The show included stage props and even singing gondoliers. After the show closed, portions of the work were re-used in productions of Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and Otway's Venice Preserved. The moving panoramas of Stanfield and other artists became highlights of the traditional Christmas pantomimes.
Meanwhile Stanfield developed his skills as an easel painter, especially of marine subjects; he first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1820, and continued, with only a few early interruptions, to his death. He was also a founder member of the Society of British Artists (from 1824) and its president for 1829, and exhibited there and at the British Institution, where in 1828, his picture "Wreckers off Fort Rouge" gained a premium of 50 guineas. He was elected Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1832, and became a full Academician in February 1835. His elevation was in part a result of the interest of William IV. who, having admired his "St. Michael's Mount" at the Academy in 1831, commissioned two works from him of the "Opening of New London Bridge" (1832), and "The Entrance to Portsmouth Harbour."
Until his death he contributed a long series of powerful and highly popular works to the Academy, both of marine subjects and landscapes from his travels at home and in France, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Ireland. Notable works include:
He also executed two notable series of Venetian subjects, one for the former dining room at Bowood House, Wiltshire, for the 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne, the other for the Duchess of Sutherland at Trentham Park, Staffordshire. He illustrated Heath's Picturesque Annuals for the years 1832-1834, and in 1838, published a collection of lithographic views on the Rhine, Moselle and Meuse; forty subjects from both sides of the English Channel were also steel-engraved under the title of Stanfield's Coast Scenery (1836). Among literary works for which he provided illustrations were Captain Marryat's The Pirate and the Three Cutters (1836), Poor Jack (1840), and the lives and works of Lord Byron, George Crabbe, and Samuel Johnson, mainly in editions by John Murray.
Stanfield's art was powerfully influenced by his early practice as a scene-painter. But, though there is always a touch of the spectacular and the scenic in his works, and though their colour is apt to be rather dry and hard, they are large and effective in handling, powerful in their treatment of broad atmospheric effects and telling in composition, and they evince the most complete knowledge of the artistic materials with which their painter deals. John Ruskin considered his treatment of the sea and clouds of a very high order and called him the "leader of our English Realists." Wishing him to be sometimes "less wonderful and more terrible," Ruskin also pointed out the superior merits of his sketched work, especially in watercolour, to the often contrived picturesque qualities of many of his exhibited oils and the watercolours on which published engravings were based.
Stanfield was admired not only for his art but his personal simplicity and a modesty. He was born a Catholic and became increasingly devout in middle life, after the loss in 1838, of his eldest son by his second marriage (to Rebecca Adcock) and then, in the 1850s, both the children of his first marriage (to Mary Hutchinson, who had died in childbirth). His eldest surviving son, George Clarkson Stanfield (1828-1878), was also a painter of similar subjects, largely trained by his father. His grandson by his daughter Harriet, Joseph Richard Bagshawe was also a marine painter. Stanfield died at Hampstead, London, and was buried in Kensal Green Catholic Cemetery.
In 1870, three years after his death, Stanfield was awarded a major retrospective of his work at the inaugural Royal Academy Winter Exhibition. In its appraisal of the show, The Times wrote: "There are no English painters whose works have won wider and warmer popularity outside the artistic pale. Stanfield’s practiced command of the artist of composition, his unerring sense of the agreeable and picturesque in subject and effect, his pleasant and cheerful color and last, not least, the large use to which he turned his knowledge and love of the sea and shipping… (all) added to the widespread admiration he had won by his consummately skillful scene painting, (and) combined to make him one of the most popular, if not the most popular, of landscape painters."
Catholic Encyclopedia, George Charles Williamson, Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
Often inaccurately called William Clarkson Stanfield.
CLARKSON STANFIELD, (1793-1867)
Marine and landscape painter, sometimes in error called William Clarkson Stanfield, born at Sunderland on 3 Dec. 1793, was son of James Field Stanfield [q. v.], by his first wife, Mary Hoad, who died in 1801. He was called Clarkson after Thomas Clarkson [q. v.], the anti-slavery agitator. He soon showed a taste for drawing, which is said to have been inherited from his mother, and at the age of twelve he was apprenticed to an heraldic painter in Edinburgh; but his love of the sea, inherited perhaps from his father, made him enter the merchant service in 1808, and, after several voyages, he was pressed into the navy in 1812. In 1814, when in H.M.S. Namur, he painted scenery for the theatricals on board, of which Douglas William Jerrold [q. v.], then a midshipman, was ‘managing director,’ and he was sent on shore to adorn with a painting the admiral's ball-room at Sheerness. He gave such satisfaction that the commissioner of the dockyard promised to get him his discharge and give him an appointment in the yard. The commissioner died before he could fulfil his promise, and Stanfield went to sea; but shortly afterwards he was temporarily incapacitated by a fall, and was allowed to retire. He went, however, to sea again, this time on board an East Indiaman. A sketch-book which he used in China is now in the possession of his son, Mr. Field Stanfield. About 1818, he visited his father in Scotland, and missed his ship, to which he had been appointed as second mate.
He then retired from the sea and obtained employment as scene-painter at the sailors' theatre, called the Royalty, in Wellclose Square in the east of London. In 1821, he went to Edinburgh and obtained similar employment at the Pantheon Theatre. Here he made the acquaintance of David Roberts (1796-1864) [q. v.], then employed at the Theatre Royal, and of Alexander Nasmyth [q. v.] He soon returned to London, whither Roberts followed him. Both were employed at the Coburg Theatre, where they painted the scenery of ‘Guy Fawkes,’ and afterwards (from 1822) at Drury Lane, where Stanfield achieved such success that in 1826, he was presented by the proprietors of the theatre with a silver wine-cooler, in ‘testimony of his genius and skill in the scenic department.’ But he had already achieved a reputation as a painter of easel pictures, and in 1834, he gave up scene-painting as a profession, though he occasionally painted scenes for friendship's sake. At the request of Macready he painted a diorama for the pantomime at Covent Garden in 1837, and refused to accept more than 150l. for it, though offered twice that amount by the great actor. He superintended the scenery of Dickens's private theatricals at Tavistock House. The drop-scene for ‘Frozen Deep’ was painted by him in two days, and was sold for 1,000l. at the Dickens sale at Gads Hill. He also painted the beautiful scenery for the pantomime ‘Acis and Galatea,’ produced by Macready at Drury Lane in February 1842. His last work of the kind was the drop-scene of the new Adelphi Theatre, painted for his old friend Benjamin Webster in 1858.
The first picture he exhibited was ‘A River Scene,’ which appeared at the Royal Academy in 1820, and was followed by ‘St. Bernard's Well, near Edinburgh,’ in 1821, and in 1822, he (as well as his friend, David Roberts) contributed some small works to the Edinburgh Exhibition, and in the same year he sent two pictures to the British Institution. He was one of the foundation members of the Society of British Artists in 1823, and contributed to their exhibitions for some years till he seceded from the society. In 1827, he recommenced exhibiting at the academy, with a picture of ‘A Calm,’ and obtained a premium of 50l. from the British Institution for ‘Wreckers off Fort Rouge.’ In 1829, he sent to the academy ‘View near Chalons-sur-Saone,’ and in 1830, ‘Mount St. Michael, Cornwall,’ which was much admired. After this he was a regular contributor to the academy exhibitions (except in 1839) till his death. In 1832, he was elected associate, and in 1835, academician. He exhibited in all 135 works at the academy, twenty-two at the British Institution, and twenty-one at the British Artists. His life was one of continued prosperity. He frequently went abroad, and by far the greater number of his pictures were from sketches taken on the continent, principally in Italy, but also in Holland and France. Two of his few home pictures were ‘The Opening of New London Bridge’ and ‘Portsmouth Harbour,’ painted for William IV., the former of which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1832. In 1836, appeared one of his most important compositions, ‘The Battle of Trafalgar,’ painted for the United Service Club. His first picture of Venice was exhibited in 1831, and his first Italian lake scene, ‘The Isola Bella, Lago Maggiore,’ in 1834. About this time (1830) he commenced ten Venetian views for the banquetting-room of Lord Lansdowne at Bowood, and (1834) a similar number for the Duke of Sutherland at Trentham Hall. Venice and its neighbourhood, and the Italian lakes, with an occasional view on the Medway and the coast of France, employed his pencil till 1837, when he exhibited ‘On the Scheld, near Leiskenshoeck -- Squally Day,’ and the works of the following years show an extension of his travels to Avignon, Ancona, Amalfi, and Naples. From 1844 to 1848, the subjects of his exhibited pictures were principally Dutch, and included ‘The Day after the Wreck; A Dutch East Indiaman on Shore on the Ooster Schelde; Zierikree in the distance’ (1844); and ‘Dutch Boats running into Saardam -- Amsterdam in the distance’ (1845); but he also exhibited some Italian scenes like ‘Il Ponte Rotto, Rome’ (1846), and ‘Naples’ (1847), besides a battle-piece, ‘The Capture of El Gamo by H. M. sloop Speedy (Lord Cochrane)’ (1845), and ‘French Troops (1796) fording the Margra’ (1847), painted for the Earl of Ellesmere.
In 1840, he was recommended country air for his health, and rented a cottage at Northaw in Hertfordshire, near the residence of his friend, Joseph Marryat (the brother of Captain Marryat, the novelist), and in 1846, he took a lodging at Hampstead. In 1847, he determined to take up permanent residence at Hampstead, and left 48 Mornington Place for The Green-hill, now the Hampstead Public Library. Here were painted some of his finest pictures, including ‘Tilbury Fort -- Wind against Tide’ (1849), painted for Robert Stephenson, M.P.; ‘The Battle of Roveredo’ (1851), painted for J. D. Astley; ‘The Victory (with the body of Nelson on board) towed into Gibraltar after the Battle of Trafalgar’ (1853), painted for Sir Samuel Morton Peto; ‘The Pic du Midi’ (1854); and ‘The Abandoned,’ a large dismasted derelict, rolling in a heavy sea. It was painted for Thomas Baring, and is the most poetical of all his works, and also the most original, as at that time a picture without any figure or suggestion of human life was almost unknown. It was sent with two others to the Paris Exhibition of 1855, when Stanfield was awarded a gold medal of the first class, and was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1856.
It was at Hampstead that many of Stanfield's happiest years were passed. Many of the meetings of the ‘Sketching Society’ were held here, and a large circle of literary and artistic friends, including Charles Dickens, Thackeray, Macready, John Forster, Sir Edwin Landseer, David Roberts, Samuel Lover, C. R. Leslie, and the two Chalons were frequent visitors at The Green-hill. In 1851, he made a somewhat lengthened tour with his wife and daughters in the south of France and the north of Spain, and made numerous sketches, from which many of his later pictures were produced.
In 1858, Stanfield went with his old friend David Roberts to Scotland, to receive his diploma as honorary member of the Scottish Academy, and in 1862, he was made chevalier of the Belgian order of Leopold. During the last ten years of his life his health, which had been much improved by his residence at Hampstead, began to fail again. He was obliged to withdraw in some measure from the society of his friends, and in 1864, he sustained a very severe blow by the death of David Roberts. Nevertheless his interest in his art never tired, and he continued to exhibit till his death on 18 March 1867, when his last picture, ‘A Skirmish off Heligoland,’ was hanging on the walls of the academy. He died at 6 Belsize Park Road, Hampstead, whither he had been compelled to remove from The Green-hill on account of some projected building operations. He was buried in the Roman catholic cemetery at Kensal Green, where a marble cross is erected to his memory. He was twice married (first, to Mary Hutchinson, and, secondly, to Rebecca Adcock), and had nine sons and three daughters, of whom four sons and two daughters survive. One of his sons, George Clarkson, followed the art of his father with some success.
Stanfield attained a great reputation as a marine-painter, and was called the English Vandevelde. Professor Ruskin regarded him as ‘the leader of the English realists,’ and averred that he was ‘incomparably the noblest master of cloud-form of all our artists.’ He was a manly, sincere, and accomplished painter, with a keen sense of the picturesque and knowledge of sea, and sky, but he looked at nature with the eyes of a scene-painter, having too special regard to its spectacular qualities, so that few of his works, except ‘The Abandoned,’ are imbued with much poetical feeling. For these, and perhaps for other reasons, as a certain monotony in treatment and colour, the exhibition of a number of his pictures at the first winter exhibition of deceased masters at the Royal Academy (1870) did not advance his reputation, and it has never since risen to the level it attained in his lifetime. His friend Charles Dickens, in a charming memorial notice published by him in All the Year Round (1 June 1867), calls him ‘the soul of frankness, generosity, and simplicity, the most loving and most lovable of men.’
In the National Gallery of British Art (Vernon Collection) are four of Stanfield's pictures, ‘Entrance to the Zuyder Zee, Texel Island,’ the sketch for ‘The Battle of Trafalgar,’ ‘The Lake of Como,’ and ‘The Canal of the Giudecca and Church of the Jesuits, Venice;’ and at the South Kensington Museum (Sheepshanks' gift) are ‘Near Cologne,’ ‘A Market Boat on the Scheldt,’ ‘Sands near Boulogne,’ and (Townshend bequest) ‘A Rocky Bay.’ Other pictures by him are at the Garrick Club, of which he was an active member. ‘The Battle of Roveredo’ is at the Royal Holloway College, Egham. Many of his pictures have been engraved (two of them, ‘Tilbury Fort’ and ‘The Castle of Ischia,’ for the Art Union of London), and book illustrations after his sketches are to be found in Heath's Picturesque Annual, 1832, etc., Brockedon's Road-book from London to Naples, 1835, Stanfield's Coast Scenery, 1836, Lawson's Scotland Delineated, Mapei's Italy, 1847, etc., Marryat's Pirate and Three Cutters, 1836, and Poor Jack, 1840, Dickens's Battle of Life, Tennyson's Poems, 1857, and Tillotson's New Waverley Album.
George Clarkson Stanfield (1828-1878), second son of the second marriage of William Clarkson Stanfield, was born in London in 1828. He was the pupil of his father, and painted the same class of subjects. He exhibited seventy-three at the Royal Academy, and forty-nine at the British Institution from 1844 to 1876. He died in 1878.
[Cunningham's Lives (Heaton); Men of the Time; Redgrave's Dictionary; Graves's (Algernon) Dictionary; Bryan's Dictionary; (Graves and Armstrong); Ballantine's Life of David Roberts; Life and Letters of Charles Dickens; Pollock's Life of Macready; Dafforne's Pictures by Stanfield; Portfolio; Once a Week; The Hampstead Record, 27 December 1890; Notes and Queries, 8th ser.; Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 53., by William Cosmo Monkhouse Stanfield.]
CLARKSON STANFIELD, R.A.
Contents: -- Apprenticed to a Heraldic Painter - Goes to Sea - Meets Douglas Jerrold- Scene-painting - Exhibits at the Royal Academy - Becomes Acquainted with Dickens - A Memorable Trip to Cornwall - The Logan Stone - Illustrations for "The Chimes" - A Labour of Love - A Present and a Letter from Dickens - Illustration for "The Cricket on the Hearth" - A Quaint Epistle, signed "Henry Bluff" - Illustrations for "The Battle of Life - Dickens's Opinion of Stanfield's Designs - Illustration for "The Haunted Man" - Another Gift from Dickens to the Artist - A Drawing of the "Britannia" Steam-ship - Private Theatricals - A Remarkable Act-Drop - Declining Health - Death of the Artist - Dickens's Eulogium - "The Most Lovable of Men."
FIRST a sailor, then an artist and a Royal Academician, William Clarkson Stanfield acquired the reputation of being the greatest marine-painter of his time. Born in 1793, he was brought up to the sea, and at sea (curiously enough) was thrown into the companionship of Douglas Jerrold, who, like himself, was ordained to make his mark in a very different profession.
When about twelve years old Clarkson Stanfield was apprenticed to a heraldic painter in Edinburgh, but an intense longing for the career of a sailor resulted in his entering the merchant service in 1808. Four years later he was pressed into the Royal Navy, and while on board the King's ship Namur in 1814, (where he first met Jerrold, then a midshipman), his talent for drawing was discovered, whereupon he was sent ashore at Sheerness to assist in the painting and decoration of the Admiral's ball-room, his work giving so much satisfaction that he was promised his discharge from the Navy -- a promise, however, that was not fulfilled. After another interval of three or four years he finally left the sea, having been temporarily disabled by a fall, and procured an engagement as scene-painter at the East London Theatre, for he had already essayed this branch of Art on board ship. So eminently satisfactory were his pictorial achievements in East London that he obtained a similar position at the Edinburgh Theatre, and thence, in 1822, in conjunction with his friends David Roberts and Nasmyth, he was employed in a like capacity at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. From that time his success in Art was assured.
Stanfield had already exhibited in the Royal Academy, and year by year his work in this and other Institutions continued to excite interest and admiration, by reason of the simple truthfulness of all his representations. Usually, but not invariably, he preferred to depict scenes in which his nautical experience could be made available, and his natural gifts permitted him to combine with the genuine sailor-like feeling displayed in the treatment of his subjects a poetical sentiment which considerably enhanced the charm of his productions. In 1832, Stanfield was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy, and three years later he attained full honours. It will thus be seen that he had gained a very dignified position in the world of Art before even the name of Charles Dickens became known to the reading public, -- as a matter of fact, the future novelist was at that date writing the earliest of those wonderful sketches which appeared under the nom de guerre of "Boz."
Clarkson Stanfield, who was Charles Dickens's senior by about nineteen years, made the acquaintance of the novelist late in the "Thirties," when began those affectionate relations subsisting between the two distinguished men. "I love you so truly," observed Dickens to the artist, in a letter dated August 24, 1844, "and have such pride and joy of heart in your friendship, that I don't know how to begin writing to you." Two years previously Stanfield joined Dickens and his friends Forster and Maclise in their famous trip to Cornwall, -- three memorable weeks, overflowing with enjoyment and fun; the artists made sketches of the most romantic of the halting-places, one of these being a drawing of the Logan Stone by Stanfield (now in the Forster Collection at South Kensington), where are seen the figures of himself and his three fellow-travellers.
In 1844, Dickens conceived the idea of a second Christmas Book, The Chimes, and what more natural than that he should desire to enlist the services, as illustrator, of so skilled a draughtsman as Clarkson Stanfield? It was decided to depart from the plan adopted in regard to the "Carol," by engaging more than one artist, thus imparting an agreeable variety to the designs. Stanfield, eager to gratify his friend, did not require much persuasion to co-operate in the pictorial embellishment of the little volume, for which he provided two choice drawings, viz., "The Old Church," -- a faithful representation of the "old London belfry " of St. Dunstan's in Fleet Street, -- and "Will Fern's Cottage," -- a pretty bit of landscape scenery, such as the artist knew so well how to depict.
With these Dickens was charmed, and in a letter to his wife he said: " Stanfield's readiness, delight, wonder at my being pleased with what he has done is delicious."
Stanfield, it appears, would not accept payment for these drawings, preferring that they should be considered as tokens of friendship. Dickens, however, could not pass over so generous an act without some acknowledgment, and this took the form of a silver claret-jug, which was presented (as the inscription records) "In Memory of 'The Chimes.' " Accompanying the gift was the following letter, dated October 2, 1845, where allusion is made to the succeeding Christmas Story: -- "My Dear Stanny, -- I send you the claret-jug. But for a mistake, you would have received the little remembrance almost immediately after my return from abroad.
"... I need not say how much I should value another little sketch from your extraordinary hand in this year's small volume, to which Mac again does the frontispiece. But I cannot hear of it, and will not have it (though the gratification of such aid to me is really beyond all expression), unless you will so far consent to make it a matter of business as to receive, without asking any questions, a cheque in return from the publishers. Do not misunderstand me -- though I am not afraid there is much danger of your doing so, for between us misunderstanding is, I hope, not easy. I know perfectly well that no terms would induce you to go out of your way, in such a regard, for perhaps anybody else. I cannot, nor do I desire to, vanquish the friendly obligation which help from you imposes on me. But I am not the sole proprietor of these little books; and it would be monstrous in you if you were to dream of putting a scratch into a second one without some shadowy reference to the other partners, ten thousand times more monstrous in me if any consideration on earth could induce me to permit it, which nothing will or shall.
"So, see what it comes to. If you will do me a favour on my terms, it will be more acceptable to me, my dear Stanfield, than I can possibly tell you. If you will not be so generous, you deprive me of the satisfaction of receiving it at your hands, and shut me out from that possibility altogether. What a stony-hearted ruffian you must be in such a case! -- Ever affectionately yours, "Charles Dickens."
The "small volume" here alluded to was "The Cricket on the The Cricket Hearth," 1846, for which Stanfield prepared one illustration, viz., "The Carrier's Cart."
To the fourth Christmas Book, "The Battle of Life," Stanfield contributed three beautiful little designs, representing respectively "War," "Peace," and "The 'Nutmeg Grater' Inn." Happily, I am enabled to present facsimiles of the original sketches (very slight in treatment) of the first two subjects, through the courtesy of the artist's son, Mr. Field Stanfield. The story was written at Lausanne, and, during Dickens's absence in Switzerland, Forster succeeded in enlisting Stanfield as one of the illustrators as a glad surprise for the author, who, on being informed of the fact, wrote to his biographer: "Your Christmas Book illustration-news makes me jump for joy." Forster intimates that these "three morsels of English landscape," delineated by Stanfield, had a singular charm for Dickens at the time, who referred to the illustrations altogether as by far the best that had been done for any of the Christmas Books. "It is a delight," he remarked concerning Stanfield's designs, "to look at these little landscapes of the dear old boy. How gentle and elegant, and yet how manly and vigorous they are! I have a perfect joy in them."
The last of the Christmas Books, viz., "The Haunted Man," contains three illustrations by this artist, viz., "The Lighthouse," "The Exterior of the Old College," and " The Christmas Party in the Great Dinner Hall." In the first subject, which is decidedly the most successful, Stanfield found a most congenial theme, for here his knowledge of sailors and of the dangers of the sea proved serviceable. With regard to his designs for these little annuals, it appears that the artist could not be prevailed upon to accept payment for them, Dickens's protests notwithstanding. He consequently became the recipient of another gift -- a pair of handsome silver salvers, bearing the simple inscription, "Clarkson Stanfield from Charles Dickens," in recognition of his friendly collaboration, and these are now in the possession of one of the artist's sons.
There is another illustration by Stanfield to which some allusion must be made. This is an admirable water-colour drawing of the Britannia, the steamship that conveyed Dickens to America in 1842. The drawing was made with a view to reproduction as the frontispiece for the first cheap edition of "American Notes," and the following hitherto unpublished letter (dated May 11, 1850) to Edward Chapman (of Chapman & Hall), is of interest in this connection: -- "Dear Sir, -- Mr. Stanfield will draw the packet-ship for the frontispiece to the 'American Notes.' He says lithograph is better than wood for that kind of subject; please let me know immediately whether it will suit us to lithograph it. -- Faithfully yours, "Charles Dickens."
The suggestion was found impracticable, so it was decided that the drawing should be made on wood. The block was therefore forwarded to the artist, who complained to Dickens of its imperfect surface, whereupon the novelist despatched to Edward Chapman this brief missive, dated May 22: -- " Dear Sir, -- Mr. Stanfield wonders you didn't send him a paving-stone to draw upon, as send a block in this unprepared state. I send you his drawing to do the best you can with. It costs nothing, and I wish it to be kept very clean and returned to me. -- Faithfully yours, "Charles Dickens."
It may be inferred from this letter that the drawing was copied upon the wood-block by the engraver himself, whose name (T. Bolton) is appended to the frontispiece. The original picture was purchased at the sale of Dickens's effects in 1870, for the sum of £110, 5s., by the late Earl of Darnley, for many years the novelist's friend and neighbour.
Clarkson Stanfield, whose intimacy with the Dickens family was very close, used to take part in their Christmas sports and gambols, and in connection with the private theatricals at Tavistock House his services as scene-painter were invaluable. Apropos of this, the novelist once wrote to Frank Stone, A.R.A.: "Stanfield bent on desperate effects, and all day long with his coat off, up to his eyes in distemper colours." Again: "If Stanfield don't astonish 'em [the audience], I'm a Dutchman. O Heaven, if you could hear the ideas he proposes to me, making even my hair stand on end!" For Wilkie Collins's drama, "The Lighthouse," produced at Tavistock House, the artist painted a very remarkable act-drop representing the Eddystone Lighthouse, concerning which it may be observed that, although it occupied the great painter only one or two mornings, it realised at the novelist's death nearly a thousand guineas!
Dickens, when writing to Stanfield, frequently adopted nautical expressions, in allusion to the artist's experiences as a seaman. He sometimes addressed him as "Old Tarpaulin," "Old Salt," "Messmet," etc, and as an example of this I here reprint a letter, written on an occasion when Stanfield innocently demanded of Dickens to be informed of the amount due for a pair of candlesticks that the novelist had sent him: -- "My Dear Stanny, — In reference to the damage for the candle-sticks, I beg to quote (from 'The Cricket on the Hearth,' by the highly popular and deservedly so Dick) this reply:
'I'll damage you if you inquire.' Ever yours, My block-reeving, Main-brace splicing, Lead-heaving, Ship-conning, Stun'sail-bending, Deck-swabbing Son of a sea-cook, Henry Bluff, H.M.S. Timber." *
*From "The Letters of Charles Dickens." Mr. Field Stanfield informs me that it is quite certain the candlesticks were not a gift from Dickens to his father. It would seem most probable that there may have been some accident during theatrical preparations, for which the artist considered himself responsible, and that Dickens undertook to repair the misfortune hiimself.
During the last ten years of his life Stanfield's health became less strong, and he was obliged in some measure to retire from the congenial circle of his artistic and literary associates, continuing, however, to take great delight in his art. Stanfield breathed his last on May 18, 1867. His death proved a great blow to Dickens, who, in a note of sympathy to Mr. George Stanfield, observed: "No one of your father's friends can ever have loved him more dearly than I always did, or can have better known the worth of his noble character." To the famous painter, for whom he ever entertained a strong affection, the novelist had dedicated "Little Dorrit," and, as a tribute to his memory, wrote (in All the Year Round) a sympathetic eulogium upon his departed friend of thirty years, where, after alluding to the artist as "the National historian of the Sea," he says: "He was a charitable, religious, gentle, truly good man. A genuine man, incapable of pretence or of concealment. He was the soul of frankness, generosity, and simplicity. The most genial, the most affectionate, the most loving, and the most lovable of men."
Dickens and his illustrators: Cruikshank, Seymour, Buss, "Phiz", Cattermole, Leech, Doyle, Stanfield, Maclise, Tenniel, Frank Stone, Landseer, Palmer, Topham, Marcus Stone, and Luke Fildes; with twenty-two portraits and facsimiles of seventy original drawings now reproduced for the first time., (1899); [Scan contains ocr errors.]
View painter's work: Clarkson Frederick Stanfield (1793-1867)