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John Charles Denham ( - 1867)

View of the old church at Chelsea



Museum number: P161

Curatorial note

Little would be known about the amateur artist John Charles Denham were it not for the survival of an album of watercolours and drawings put together by him, along with various other papers, in the General Collection of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University (MSS 831; see http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.denham).

Denham seems to have been born in London, the son of a painter of miniatures. He became a British civil servant and was the secretary and treasurer of the Globe Insurance Company of London. He was an amateur artist and one of the nine original members of the Society of Young Painters, founded in 1799. He is known to have exhibited in London between 1796 and 1858 (there are three examples of his watercolours in the collections of Tate). He was a close friend of the history painter William Hamilton (1751-1801), whose widow Mary (d. 1837) became Denham's first wife (he married three times). This provides a connection with Soane, who owned works by Hamilton and knew him through the Royal Academy. The Beinecke album contains drawings by others from Soane's circle including Flaxman, Lawrence, Cosway, Callcott and Mortimer. Denham died in London in 1867 aged 90.

Soane would have known the subject of this watercolour, Chelsea Old Church, close to the River Thames, since he was often in Chelsea following his appoiintment as Surveyor to the Royal Hospital in 1807. As Surveyor, he had the use of a small house in the grounds of the Royal Hospital, which he retained until his death.

Provenance help-art-provenance

On the verso is the label of Paul & Dominic Colnaghi and Co. / Printsellers / to the / Royal Family / 14 Pall Mall East / London.

If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk