Richard James Lane, papers

Scope and Content

The papers of Richard James Lane consist of 5 account books; 3 volumes of correspondence; 1 volume containing an index to the correspondence and 2 boxes containing a card index to the Lane family collection of lithographs by Richard James Lane.

The first account book is titled 'Lithographic Drawings - when finished - for whom drawn - and at what price - February 6th 1826'. The first entry is dated February 8th 1826 and the last September 1st 1835. The back of the volume contains an extra account of work received covering the period 1826 to 1830. Prices charged have been struck through, presumably when payment was received. The first half of the volume has a running figure of total earnings. Inserts have been inserted throughout the volume containing references to some of the sitters in the volume, it is unclear when these were added or by whom.

The second account book begins on September 5 1835 and ends December 21 1846; it appears that the information captured is structured in the same way as the first volume. Inserts have again been inserted throughout the volume containing references to some of the sitters in the volume, it is unclear when these were added or by whom.

The third account book begins on January 2 1847 and ends April 20 1867; it appears that the information captured is structured in the same way as the first volume. Inserts have again been inserted throughout the volume containing references to some of the sitters in the volume, it is unclear when these were added or by whom. The last third of the volume is blank.

The fourth account book is titled 'Money Received 1826, it contains the date money was received, who it was received from and the amount. The volume records money received until at least 1833 and possibly also 1834. A note on the inside cover reveals that the volume was indexed by ES in 1957.

The fifth account book also records money received in the same manner as described for the fourth account book. The volume covers the period January 1835 to October 1842. A note on the inside cover reveals that the volume was indexed by ES in 1957.

The first volume of correspondence is titled 'My Wife's Book, R J Lane, Volume 1'. An explanation by Lane, dated April 9 1860, at the front of the volume states that the letters cover May 1826 to August 1854 and that they had been kept carefully by his wife before being arranged in the volume in chronological order apart from those dated July 1846 to September 1848 which had been accidentally misfiled in the volume. The letters contained within the volume are largely from customers of Lane's, either thanking or complimenting him on work produced, enclosing payment or discussing commissions. There are some letters dated after 1854 found in the volume, these are either loose or have been bound in the volume. The latest date identified is 1872 and relates to Lane's resignation from the South Kensington Museum School of Design. A list of lithographs of Queen Victoria, largely done whilst she was Princess Victoria, is also loose in the volume, a reference of a lithograph of 'The Queen for Her Majesty' dated 5th February 1832 could refer to Queen Adelaide wife of William IV.

The second volume of correspondence is titled 'My Wife's Book, R J Lane, Volume 2, Letters relating to Business from Aug 1854'. The letters are arranged chronologically and are largely from customers of Lane's, either thanking or complimenting him on work produced, enclosing payment or discussing commissions. The last letter in the volume is dated March 1866. The inside cover of the volume has an obituary of Lane stuck to it, the obituary was published in the Pall Mall Gazette on December 3 1872.

The third volume of correspondence is untitled, it covers the period June 1827 to August 1872 and the correspondence is not in chronological order. Whilst some letters relate to business others are of a more personal nature, including two letters from Lane's daughter Clara Sophia Lane which are in French. Stuck onto the inside cover of the volume are a death notice from 'The Times' and an obituary from 'The Illustrated London News'.

The volume containing an index to the correspondence is organised in alphabetical order. It is unknown who compiled the index or when it was compiled. The following loose papers have been stored in the volume: 'List of portraits drawn by Count d'Orsay lithographed by R. J. Lane and published by Mr Mitchell of Bond Street - hitherto private - now on sale at 5/ each or 4/ if the whole 140 are bought'; copied extract from 'Girlhood of Queen Victoria' recounting sitting with Lane on April 8 1837; a list of lithograph's of Queen Victoria, similar to the list described in the first volume of correspondence; letter from Clara S. Lane to 'dear Austin' (thought to be Austin Lane Poole) dated June 12 1913.

Two boxes containing a card index relating to lithographs by Richard James Lane. It is unknown when the index was compiled or who compiled it.

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard James Lane (1800-1872) was born in Gloucestershire, the second son of the Revd Theophilus Lane and his wife Sophia, nee Gardiner, who was a niece of Thomas Gainsborough. Lane was interested in art from an early age and at sixteen was apprenticed to the line engraver Charles Heath. Following his apprenticeship he worked as an engraver for some years but from the mid 1820s he abandoned engraving for lithography. In 1824 the printer Charles Hullmandel employed him to produce a title vignette for his 'Art of Drawing on Stone'.

Lane soon established a reputation for the quality of his craftsmanship and was especially praised for his delicate crayon work. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1824 and continued exhibiting there regularly until his death. In 1825 he produced 'Studies of Figures by Gainsborough' where he created most of the plates in tinted lithography in imitation of Gainsborough's crayon originals. He was elected an Associate Member of the Royal Academy in 1827.

Lane mainly worked as a reproductive lithographer but his specialism was portraiture and he produced hundreds of lithographs of this type, including portraits of Queen Victoria, leading artists and actors and other notable figures. The quality of this portrait lithography is demonstrated in the fees he charged; in 1849 some were as high as £100. In 1837 he was made lithographer to the queen and three years later to Prince Albert. He also made statuettes, making a life size statue of his brother Edward in Egyptian dress in 1835.

The later part of his life saw Lane teach both lithography and etching at the government School of Design (later the Royal College of Art). He married Sophia Hodges in November 1825 with whom he had two sons and three daughters, one of whom Clara Sophia Lane was an artist. He died at his home in Kensington on 21 November 1872.

This biographical description is largely based on Michael Twyman, 'Lane, Richard James (1800–1872)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/15997, accessed 21 March 2017]

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Personal photography is permitted for research purposes only. Photocopying is not permitted.