George Richmond, RA (British, 1809–1896)

Portrait of the Reverend Edward Coleridge

Richmond drew Coleridge, godfather to his son Walter, on three occasions in 1844, 1850 and 1869 and this portrait may be the earliest of the three.

The sitter (1800–1873), the nephew of the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834), came from a long line of pedagogues and clergymen originally from Ottery St Mary, Devon. A fine, handsome boy, full of spirits, [who] grew into an equally fine, handsome man, 1 Edward was a fellow of Exeter College, Oxford, before becoming a master at Eton in 1824. He married one of the six daughters of Eton’s Headmaster John Keate (1778–1852). A popular and inspiring master, both in the classroom and on the playing fields, Edward Coleridge had by far the most successful house at Eton for many years… He bore the infirmities of old age with indifference, the fruit of his buoyant, joyous nature. He was a complete embodiment of the muscular Christian. 2

Edward and Mary Coleridge had four sons and a daughter, three of whom were painted in oil by Charles Landseer (accompanied by their dog, painted by his brother Edwin). Coleridge became Lower Master of Eton in 1850 and Fellow in 1857, retiring in 1867. In 1862, after Mary’s death, he married Mary Bevan, and became vicar of Mapledurham near Reading. He was a member of the Ecclesiological Society and the embryonic Oxford Movement and contributed towards the building of St Augustine’s College, Canterbury, designed in the Gothic Revival style by William Butterfield.

1. Lord Coleridge, KC, The Story of a Devonshire House, 1905, p. 83.

2. Ibid., p. 83.

George Richmond, RA

Signed with initials l.r.: G.R., inscribed l.l.: Rev. Edward Coleridge, watercolour over traces of pencil heightened with touches of white, inscribed on reverse of original backboard

25.1 x 19.5 cm; 9 ¾ x 7 ¾ inches

Provenance : A. C. Richmond; A. W. Richmond, by family descent from the artist until 2018.

Literature : Raymond Lister, George Richmond: A Critical Biography, 1981, no. 130 or 131.