Lane, Richard James (DNB00)

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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, 16 Feb. 1800. 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 shown 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. In later years, when he had no personal interest to serve, he was largely instrumental in obtaining, in 1865, to admission of engravers to the honour of full academician, or 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 retain the post against till his death, which took place on 21 Nov. 1872.

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

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.

[Magazine of Art. 1881, pp. 431-2 Athenæum, 29 Nov. 1872; personal knowledge.]

S. L-P.