Skip to main content

COVID-19 Update

All Yale Library buildings and reading rooms are currently closed. Library staff working remotely continue to provide online support for research and Yale classes. Read more.

Album of watercolors and drawings.

 Collection
Call Number: GEN MSS 831

Scope and Contents

The collection primarily consists of an album filled with drawings, prints, ephemera, and manuscript poems, letters, dedicatory inscriptions, and notes collected or created by John Charles Denham. According to an inscription by Jane Porter (leaf 2), the album was possibly created as a tribute to Denham's first wife Mary Hamilton. The volume is bound in tooled leather, measures 10.5 by 8.25 inches, and is enclosed in a bespoke morocco case.

The album contains 107 small drawings and sketches in graphite, ink, and watercolor by prominent British artists from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries such as Richard Parkes Bonington, John Flaxman, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Paul Sandby, J. M. W. Turner, and Benjamin West, as well as Denham's cohort in the Society of Young Painters: François Louis Thomas Francia, Thomas Girtin, Sir Robert Ker Porter, and Augustus Wall Callcott. Many of the drawings are signed but most are undated, and appear to have been added to the book between the early 1830s and the mid-1850s. Several bear small paper tags with references to unidentified "Old 'Water Colour' Society" volumes and folios. Among the drawings are portrait sketches of James Boswell, Maria Cosway, William Cowper, John Charles Denham, and Sarah Siddons, as well as the title character Julia de Roubigné of the novel by Henry Mackenzie. The artist most prominently represented in the album is Sir Thomas Lawrence, with fifteen drawings, one etching, two letters, and a signature clipped from an unidentified document; the most prominent family represented is the painter/author Sir Robert Ker Porter and his sisters, the novelists Jane and Anna Maria Porter. Also present are watercolor landscapes by the wife and daughter of portrait painter Thomas Phillips and three members of the Batty family, and several drawings by Denham's young stepson Henry Thomas Hamilton. Two drawings in the album have historically been attributed to Thomas Gainsborough and one to John Hamilton Mortimer (leaves 63, 67, and 77).

Accompanying the album are folders of documentary material holding an undated album inventory (likely made at the turn of the twentieth century), and an essay by Dr. Frederick Beetham, a great-nephew of Catherine Copeman Denham; the latter relates the genealogy of the Denham and Copeman families, and traces the album's provenance to 1935.

Dates

  • 1777-1935 1790-1835
  • Majority of material found within 1790 - 1835

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The John Charles Denham Album of Watercolors and Drawings is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Edwin J. Beinecke, 1953.

Arrangement

Organized into two series: I. Denham Album, 1777-1856. II. Related Documents, 1935.

Extent

0.42 Linear Feet (1 box)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.denham

Overview

The collection primarily consists of an album filled with drawings, prints, ephemera, and manuscript poems, letters, dedicatory inscriptions, and notes collected or created by John Charles Denham. The album contains 107 small drawings and sketches in graphite, ink, and watercolor by prominent British artists from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries such as Richard Parkes Bonington, John Flaxman, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Paul Sandby, J. M. W. Turner, and Benjamin West, as well as Denham's cohort in the Society of Young Painters: François Louis Thomas Francia, Thomas Girtin, Sir Robert Ker Porter, and Augustus Wall Callcott. Many of the drawings are signed but most are undated, and appear to have been added to the book between the early 1830s and the mid-1850s. Several bear small paper tags with references to unidentified "Old 'Water Colour' Society" volumes and folios. Among the drawings are portrait sketches of James Boswell, Maria Cosway, William Cowper, John Charles Denham, and Sarah Siddons, as well as the title character of Henry Mackenzie's novel Julia de Roubigné. The artist most prominently represented in the album is Sir Thomas Lawrence, with fifteen drawings, one etching, two letters, and a signature clipped from an unidentified document; the most prominent family represented is the painter/author Sir Robert Ker Porter and his sisters, the novelists Jane and Anna Maria Porter. Also present are watercolor landscapes by the wife and daughter of portrait painter Thomas Phillips and three members of the Batty family, and several drawings by Denham's young stepson Henry Thomas Hamilton (d.1813). Two drawings in the album have historically been attributed to Thomas Gainsborough and one to John Hamilton Mortimer.

John Charles Denham (d. 1867)

John Charles Denham was a British civil servant and afterward the secretary and treasurer of the Globe Insurance Company of London. Born in London and the son of a painter of miniatures, Denham was an amateur artist and one of the nine original members of the Society of Young Painters, founded in 1799 and also known as the Brothers, for whom he served as treasurer. Denham was a close friend of the history painter William Hamilton (1751-1801), whose widow Mary (d. 1837) became Denham's first wife; his second wife was Cecilia Sarah Bell (d. 1849), and his third, Catherine Case Copeman (1811-1861), a native of Sprowston, Norfolk. Denham died at his home in the Maida Vale section of London on December 15, 1867, at age 90. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London, with his wife Catherine and his brother, Vice Admiral Sir Henry Mangles Denham (1800-1887).

Custodial History

Album compiled by John Charles Denham; to Frances Copeman circa 1861; to Louisa Copeman, circa 1888; to Frank Tetley, Leeds; to James Miles Book Shop, Leeds, by 1924; to Sir Harold Mackintosh, Harrogate, by 1935; to Edwin J. Beinecke by 1953.

General note

The leather-bound album measures 10.5 by 8.25 inches, and is enclosed in a bespoke morocco case.

Processing Information

Former call number: MS Vault Denham, MS Vault Shelves Denham

Creator

Title
Guide to the John Charles Denham Album of Watercolors and Drawings
Author
by Sandra Markham
Date
2012
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977