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Lonsdale, James (DNB00)


LONSDALE, JAMES (1777–1839), portrait-painter, was born at Lancaster on 16 May 1777. After some practice in art, in which he was encouraged by the patronage of Archibald, ninth Duke of Hamilton, he arrived in London early in life, became a pupil in the house of George Romney, and a student at the Royal Academy. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1802, sending a portrait of ‘Miss Brooke,’ and was thenceforward a regular contributor of portraits to that exhibition. In 1818 he exhibited a portrait of Talma the actor as ‘Hamlet.’ On the death of John Opie in 1807 Lonsdale purchased his house in Berners Street, where he resided for the remainder of his life. He took a large share in the foundation of the Society of British Artists, and was a frequent exhibitor at their gallery. He was also portrait-painter in ordinary to the Duke of Sussex and to Queen Caroline, painting several portraits of each, and was one of the painters to the Beefsteak Society. Lonsdale conceived his paintings in a strong and vigorous manner, but his execution was smooth and rather tame. He had a very extensive practice, and some of his portraits were engraved. He painted for the Duke of Norfolk at Arundel Castle a large historical subject of ‘King John signing Magna Charta,’ and, besides some portraits of the duke, among other notabilities, painted the emperor of Russia, the king of the Belgians, and the Archduke Maximilian of Austria. In the National Portrait Gallery there are portraits by Lonsdale of Lord Brougham, Sir Philip Francis, J. Nollekens, R.A., W. Sharp the engraver, Abraham Rees, Sir William Bolland, James Heath the engraver, Captain Charles Morris, and Queen Caroline, as well as a bust of Lonsdale himself by E. H. Baily, R.A. [q. v.]. Lonsdale died in Berners Street on 17 Jan. 1839. He married Miss Thornton of Lancaster, and left three sons, of whom the eldest became an artist; the second, John James Lonsdale, became recorder of Folkestone and died in 1887; and the third adopted the surgical profession.

[The Art Union, 1839, p. 22; Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Scharf's Cat. of National Portrait Gallery; information from George Scharf, esq., C.B., F.S.A.]

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