1825 Autograph Letter Signed from James Stark, English Landscape Painter to George Cooke, Engraver.
A letter early in the career of a English landscape painter
An interesting letter from 1825 written by James Stark (1794–1859), a Norwich-born British painter, the son of a Scottish dyer; here beginning his career ascent. Stark studied with John Crome (1768–1821), painter and etcher. By 1817 had decided to go to London where he entered the Royal Academy Schools.
Here, Stark writes to noted engraver George Cooke (1781–1834) in Hackney. Stark attempts to use Cooke to network with noted British painter Sir Augustus Wall Callcott (1779–1844):
Your print from A.W. Callcott’s picture I hear is announced in the papers. May I hope to have an impression soon as I am most anxious to see it. It is reported that Mr. Callcott intends to pay Norwich a visit in the Spring. Should this be true perhaps you can prevail on him to honour me with a visit. I should be proud to be introduced to him.
Stark then writes, hopefully, that if Cooke will be in the vicinity:
I shall send 3 pictures for the British Artist Exhibition or if any friend of yours would think it worth the trouble I shall have 4 or 5 pictures there. Mr. Davison will take charge of them for the exhibition and be very happy to share them. There is a wood scene for Lord Northwick [likely John Rushout, second Baron of Northwick (1769–1859) avid collector and art connoisseur] which is much the kind of picture you describe in your letter…
Between 1831 and 1859 the majority of Stark’s paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy. He is known for his 1827 undertaking of Scenery of the rivers of Norfolk, comprising the Yare, the Waveney, and the Bure… which he completed in 1834. Of these illustrations it has been opined they indicate the finer qualities of his work, his influence from John Crome, and of the Dutch landscape painters.
ODNB notes that at a young age Stark had acquired an impressive group of patrons. In 1821, illness severely restricted Stark’s output which “initially prevented him from painting for three years” and Stark briefly took up etching. This February 26, 1825 letter appears to conform with the suggestion that by 1825 Stark was well enough to seriously begin thinking again about being an active painter.
An interesting letter connecting this noted British painter with three other active luminaries in the early 19th-century British Art World.
James Stark (1794–1859)
1840 Autograph Letter Signed from James Stark, English Landscape Painter.
[England]. Tuesday 28/40. Octavo. p. Trace of mounting to verso; else very good.
A letter from James Stark, 15 years after the above-mentioned ALS, written to a man affectionately (and only) referred to as “French.” Stark’s hand and autograph have evolved, but there are numerous paleographic similarities to his letter from 1825. A fairly routine letter although Stark notes “I am now in the middle of painting and a furious j[?] job it is. I hope to get all finished by tomorrow evening and in consequence I will come down on Thursday…”
Description: 1825 Autograph Letter Signed from James Stark, English Landscape Painter to George Cooke, Engraver.
Norwich, [England]. February 26, 1825. Quarto, [1½]pp. + integral address leaf. Old cello-tape mend, beneath the conclusion of letter; one early paper reinforcement at fold line, traces of mounting from being once in an album. Darkly engrossed; easily legible; good.
ODNB for Stark, Cooke, John Rushout, A.W. Callcott.
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