Page:English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the nineteenth century.djvu/151

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85
THEODORE LANE.

of the rippling stream out of which he has been accustomed to whip his favourite speckle-backed beauties. The painting from which this engraving was taken was the work of Theodore Lane, who, although his work is limited to the short space of five or six years, seems to call for special mention by virtue of his tragic ending, the short span allotted to his life and labours, and the superiority of his talent and genius to those of many of his contemporaries. Lane was literally a comic artist of the nineteenth century, having been born at Isleworth in 1800. He was apprenticed to a colourer of prints at Battle Bridge, named Barrow; and, shortly after completing his time, produced (in 1822) six designs illustrative of "The Life of an Actor," and with these in a small portfolio under his arm, went out into the world to seek his fortune as other comic artists have done before him and since. Pierce Egan, at this time, was the most popular man in town; his name (on very insufficient literary merits) was identified with the success of the most famous book of the century—we allude to the "Life in London." To his residence in Spann's Buildings, St. Pancras, Lane betook himself; showed him his sketches, and said if Egan would only undertake the letterpress, he should find no difficulty in getting Ackermann, Sherwood, or any of the art publishers of the day, to undertake its publication. But Egan's hands were full, and he declined the offer. Two years later on, author and artist again met, and the result was that "The Life of an Actor, Peregrine Proteus," made its appearance, "illustrated by twenty-seven coloured scenes and nine woodcuts, representing the vicissitudes of the stage. The publisher was Arnold, of Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, who paid the young artist one hundred and fifty pounds fifteen shillings for his share of the work. "The Life of an Actor" was published at a guinea, and dedicated to Edmund Kean; and a contemporary critic describes it as "one of the best exemplifications of Mr. Egan's peculiar talent It is impossible for us," he continues, "to do justice to the spirit of the designs, many of which would [of course] not discredit the pencil of Hogarth." Lane's association with one of the most noted sporting characters of the day opened the way to him for further