Dighton, Richard (1795-1880)

Portrait of an unknown man.

Full-length portrait of an unknown man with an umbrella under his arm. Typical profile portrait by caricaturist and watercolor portrait painter (an unfortunate art thief) Richard Dighton. His father Robert Dighton,had been a clever social satirist.
Signed on the verso in pencil: ‘Richard Dighton / 5 Hugh Street (West) / Eccleston square’. It is, therefore, possible to date the drawing between 1851 and 1852, when the artist lived at that address in Cheltenham. [see THE ILLUSTRATORS. THE BRITISH ART OF ILLUSTRATION 1800-2014, p. 9].

“Richard Dighton published his first etching in 1815. By 1828 he had created over one hundred works of art in this medium. At that date he ceased etching and moved to the provinces, settling in both Cheltenham and Worcester. Over the next twenty years Dighton worked mainly as a watercolor portraitist. After 1835 he again produced original prints, this time in the medium of lithography. As accomplished portrait painter and etcher, Dighton exhibited at the Free Society of Artists from 1769 until 1773. In addition, he periodically exhibited at the Royal Academy. Dighton used his subtle style to produce a great number of humorous portraits of the leading figures in English society. In awkward poses and with ruddy faces, Dighton satirized lawyers, military officers, actor, and actresses who were seen about town. He also did a series of amusing portraits of Oxford professors and country gentlemen, which display the same subtle sense of humor typical of his caricatures. In 1806 the British Museum discovered that Dighton had been stealing prints from their print room and selling them on the open market. An art dealer by the name of Samuel Woodburn had purchased a copy of Rembrandt’s “Coach Landscape” from Dighton for twelve guineas. Supposing it may be a copy, Woodburn took the print to the British Museum to compare it with their impression; upon which he discovered that their copy was missing. Upon investigation Dighton confessed that he befriended the museum officials by drawing portraits of them when he visited the museum. This relationship allowed him the freedom to steal prints from the print room and remove them from the museum in his portfolio. He then proceeded to supplement his artists’ income by selling the pilfered items to the art trade. Although he had somewhat questionable morals, Dighton remains an important English caricaturist who brought the profession a refreshing subtlety and quiet wit. Ironically, many of Dighton’s caricatures and some of his original drawings can now be found in the print room of the British Museum.

Drawing and watercolor strengthened with gum on cardboard, total: 261 x 208 mm, some damages along the margins, probably the drawing was wrongly mounted. Some accidents on the lower part, yet the portrait is in great condition.

Incl. BTW  423,50

Excl. BTW  350,00

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