TONGUE, Richard (1795–1873), artist. ALS to Henry Howard 1839?

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TONGUE, Richard (1795–1873), artist. Autograph letter signed to Henry Howard Esq, 1 side, cut down 4to (6.5 x 7 ins), 14 Brownlow St, Gray's Inn [London], no date (1839 inserted in pencil), enclosing "one of my paintings, the first offered to any London Exhibition" and expressing his hope that "Wm Hilton Esq is better than when I last had the pleasure to wait on him". At the base of the letter are details of the painting's price and title: 'Picture 50 gns - Frame & Case 10 gns - Scene in Westmorland'.

Richard Tongue was born in Bath, Somerset, on 20 February 1795, the son of Richard Tongue (d. 1823/4) and his wife, Ann. He was a self-taught amateur artist who described himself as a landscape painter, and although he said he had been painting in oils at least from 1818, his few known surviving paintings date from 1833 to 1837. His earliest known works were models.

He showed little enthusiasm to sell his work (hence this letter is of interest), and preferred to donate it to institutions where it could be seen. His main interests were prehistoric monuments, or ‘Celtic antiquities’ as they were described at the time, and precariously balanced rocks said to have druidic associations. In the 1830s Tongue went on annual tours to sketch scenery and antiquities and later worked his drawings up into finished oil paintings. His mental health deteriorated around about 1844, following which he was admitted to a succession of lunatic asylums until shortly before his death. (ODNB)

His correspondent is probably Henry Howard (1757–1842), landowner and antiquary, of Corby Castle, Cumberland, son of Philip Howard (author of A Scriptural History of the Earth and of Mankind 1797). He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and contributed papers to Archaeologia, and helped other historians in their work.

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