Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Fine Art in Dagenham

Dagenham in East London, but once in Essex, is a place whose name conjures up Ford cars, the Dagenham Girl Pipers and possibly a swing seat indicator in General Elections. It is not somewhere one associates with fine art. It was therefore something of a surprise to chance upon an online article from the Guardian about a very fine painting in the Valence House Museum in the town. Part of a substantial collection of paintings of the Fanshawe family this one is a particular gem.

Sit Richard Fanshawe
William Dobson

Image: Wikipedia 

It is a portrait of Sir Richard Fanshawe (1608-1666 ) painted by William Dobson in Oxford in 1644. Dobson had set up his studio in the High Street and painted members of the Royalist army and entourage in the Civil War.

Dobson (1611-1646) himself was a wonderful portraitist, but little is known of his life, and his work is not, I think, that well known by the general public. There is an account of him at William Dobson which indicates his importance and significance as an artist, and has a selection of his portraits. 

In the portrait Fanshawe at 36 is shown elegantly attired in pale blue silk and surrounded by the attributes of a cultured and accomplished administrator and diplomat. In that same year of 1644 he was married in the church at Wolvercote, just north-west of the city. His biography can be read at Sir Richard Fanshawe, 1st Baronet

The article about the painting, which outlines the significance of the things depicted with the sitter, can be seen at The Great British Art tour: the royalist who spoke the king's language of love

The Valence House Museum looks to have fine collections in an historic building, yet appears not to be that well known.

There is more about the history of the town from Wikipedia at Dagenham

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