Anglicans Online banner More about the gryphon
Independent On the web since 1994 More than 200,000 readers More than 10,000 links Updated every Sunday

New This Week
Everything new is here.

News Centre
News archive

News flash: a summary of the top headlines
Start here
Anglicans believe...
The Prayer Book
The Bible

Read letters to AO
Write to us

Resources A to Z

World Anglicanism
Anglican Communion
In full communion
Not in the Communion

Dioceses and Parishes
New Zealand

Vacancies Centre
List a vacancy
Check openings worldwide

Add a site or link to AO
Add a site to AO
Link to AO

About Anglicans Online
Back issues
Awards and publicity
About our logo

Support AO
Shop for AO goods
Help support us!
Thanks to our friends

Our search engine

The Revd Samuel Wilberforce, aet. 40

The Reverend Samuel Wilberforce, age 40, when Dean of Winchester

Hallo again to all.

EM Forster once exclaimed about George Richmond*: 'My what an excellent artist he was! When will a revival descend on him, and a monograph be written about him?'

The Revd Christopher Wordsworth

The Reverend Christopher Wordsworth (detail)

What? You aren't familiar with George Richmond, RA, 1809-1896?

Well, all Anglicans should be surely, for George Richmond must have painted or sketched more Anglicans, clergy and lay, than any other artist. Completing some 2500 portraits of the Great and the Good by the end of his life, a rough calculation of Richmond's catalogue raisonné suggests a good 30 percent are clergymen or bishops.

The son of a portrait miniaturist, Richmond in his youth was a member of The Ancients, a group of young disciples of the aged William Blake. Many of Richmond's early works are biblically inspired and Blakean in their approach, but by the 1830s Richmond's iconic oil portrait of the great William Wilberforce catapulted him into portraiture for the rest of his life. A devout Anglican, GR was diligent in his attendance at Divine Worship and frequently in his letters and diaries makes reference to his faith and trust in God.

Looking at his portraits now§, one is struck with the sheer radiant loveliness of his sitters, whether male or female. And that quality wasn't a mere desire to fawn or flatter, but came from his deep Christianity.

Julia RIchmond

Julia Richmond, GR's wife, aged 13

According to Laura Forster, who was, along with her husband, the Reverend Charles Forster, perhaps GR's closest friend:

The first influence I am conscious of his having exercised on my mind, distinct and apart from the all the other loving and careful training which surrounded my youth, was the great lesson that we should look for and dwell upon goodness and beauty everywhere. We were a critical and laughter-loving family, with a good deal of admiration for personal beauty and for natural scenery, but with no great appreciation of Art or desire to create beauty in our home.

I do not know when it struck me first, but it must have been very early, and it struck me with surprise, that where we saw other people's blemishes, Mr. Richmond always saw their beauties, and where we criticised freely, he whose life turned upon what was lovely, praised freely. Later on this attitude, which I first appreciated in the physical world, I saw applied equally to the spiritual world, and whilst he never shrank from correcting by look or tone or word, anything he disapproved of in the conversation around him, so also did he never speak an unkind word or make a harsh criticism of any human being.†

That quality of loving looking (call it) that Richmond cultivated is surely one which all of us — who are not portrait painters! — would do well to emulate. We wonder just how more courteous and Christian our poor old beleaguered Anglican Communion would be if loving looking characterised our dealings with one another. Perhaps bishops should take up a pencil at their synods or drawing lessons given at the next Lambeth Conference, to help train the eye and the heart.

See you next week.

Our signature
All of us here at Anglicans Online

* In Marianne Thorton: A Domestic Biography 1797-1887

§ If you'd like to have some idea of the scope of Richmond's work, the National Portrait Gallery (London) has a number of portraits online.

† From George Richmond: A Critical Biography, by Raymond Lister, published in 1983, the monograph for which EM Forster had longed. It includes a catalogue of all Richmond's known portraits.

Last updated: 3 September 2006

(Click for the 1 August update on Cynthia's cancer.)

A thin blue line
This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2006 Society of Archbishop Justus