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Record NGA25

Archive reference number NGA25

Sir Charles Lock Eastlake Passport

Date 1859-1865

Passport stamped Sir C.L. Eastlake. Passeport. Red leather. 118mm x 88mm x 15mm. Inside passport on linen, dated 15 August 1859. Numerous consular stamps on reverse of passport and on papers bound into the case. Accompanied by a letter from the dealer Winifred A. Myers (Autographs) Ltd. to Mrs A. Gibbons, dated 3 March 1986, regarding the passport.

Record type Collection
Administrative history

Charles Lock Eastlake was born in Plymouth in 1793. In March 1809 he was admitted to the schools of the Royal Academy. In April 1810 he received the Society of Arts Silver Medal for a drawing and received his first commission from the banker Jeremiah Harman.

In 1815 he studied for a brief period in Paris, and on his return to England he sketched the defeated Napoleon being brought into Plymouth on the Bellerophon. Profits from the sale of the resulting portraits enabled Eastlake to travel to Italy.

Eastlake lived in Rome from 1816-1820, and travelled through Italy and Greece to paint landscapes and picturesque images of peasants and bandits, which proved popular in England. In 1828 Eastlake was elected as an associate of the Royal Academy, and as a full member in 1829.

In Rome, Eastlake also met a wide range of important figures: including Turner, Lawrence, Uwins and Etty, and by the time of his return to England in 1830, he had developed an extensive knowledge of European art collections.

Between 1830 and 1840 Eastlake continued his successful career as a professional artist, however his reputation as an authority on art was also growing and in 1833 and 1836 he refused an offer to be the first professor of fine arts at London University. His suggestion for the Government to establish schools of design was adopted in 1836, and he was appointed to their council after rejecting the request to become their director. In 1841 Eastlake was appointed Secretary to the Fine Arts Commission which was to determine the decoration of the new Houses of Parliament. This office brought Eastlake into close contact with Prince Albert and raised his profile as an authority on art. In 1851 he was appointed as one of the Commissioners for the Great Exhibition.

In 1849 Eastlake married Elizabeth Rigby, who was known for her published articles 'Letters from the Baltic'.

In 1842 Eastlake was appointed Librarian to the Royal Academy, and in 1859 elected as President.

In 1843 he was appointed as Keeper at the National Gallery, but resigned in 1847 due to the difficulty of the position. He served as Trustee from 1850-1855. In 1855 Eastlake was appointed as the first Director of the National Gallery, following administrative reforms recommended in the 1853 Report of the Select Committee.

As Director he travelled throughout Italy and other parts of Europe to inspect works in private and public collections and to purchase works for the National Gallery. Between 1855 and 1857 the art historian Otto Mündler was employed by the Gallery as Travelling Agent. However, Parliament withdrew the grant for Mündler's salary in 1857 and the burden of continental inspections fell solely on Eastlake's shoulders.

During his period of office, Eastlake purchased 139 pictures for the Gallery.

Eastlake died during his continental trip of 1865, in Pisa on December 24. He was buried at Florence, but at the desire of the Royal Academy his body was returned to England and buried at Kensal Green cemetery.

Custodial history

The passport was offered as a gift to the National Gallery by Ms Sally Caine on behalf of her mother. It had been found in her grandmother's papers but Ms Caine has no idea how it ended up there. Her grandfather ran a patisserie in London and it may have been acquired then. Her grandmother is the Mrs A. Gibbons who sought the advice of Winifred A Myers (Autographs) Ltd. in 1986.

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