Titled & dated l.r. 18 Sept. 1839
Pen & brown ink with watercolour
24 x 31 cm
This and our two other works by Finch dating from 1837-1839 can be compared to Edinborough [sic] from Dalmahoy Craigs, sold at Bonham's, Oxford, 04.03.2009, Lot 118, which was dated 1837.
Daniel Finch was born into a family of whom almost all the members were watercolourists. His father was Heneage Finch, 4th Earl of Aylesford, a talented and well-known amateur artist who had studied under John Baptist Malchair and who was strongly influenced by Rembrandt's landscapes and his dramatic use of light, which he was able to study through his extensive collection of Rembrandt's prints. He had been a friend of Princess Charlotte and was highly regarded by his peers. His paternal uncle was the Rev. & Hon. Daniel Finch, with whom the present artist is understandably often confused and who worked in a similar manner, though he also produced caricatures. The younger Daniel was clearly close with his uncle, serving as his sole executor (and only inheritor) following his death in 1840.
Daniel Finch was born in Mayfair, the second of the twelve children. His brother Heneage lived to inherit the title of 5th Earl, leaving Daniel to pursue a more leisured life. He went up to Christchurch, Oxford (1), and afterwards trained as a barrister at the Middle Temple and practiced law at least until 1851, keeping chambers alongside his brother David's for some of this time. From this time he is known to have lived variously at Icklesham Rectory; Green Court, Christchurch; and Milnthorpe Manor, Canterbury. He served as auditor to the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral and also as a charity commissioner in that city. Finch's father had been a key figure in the promotion of archery as a pastime in Britain and had gone as far as to set up the 'Woodmen of Arden' who continue to meet to this day near the family seat. Daniel also took a keen interest in the sport: he was initiated to the 'Woodmen' in 1812, was elected a member of the Royal Toxophilite Society in 1817 (though he is recorded as being involved as early as 1795), made Secretary (1819-1829) and finally served as Treasurer (1829-1866) (2)(3).
Finch is mentioned briefly by Charles Knight for his involvement in the restoration and redecoration of St Martin's, Canterbury, and is described as having a "cultivated mind...calculated to give an impulse to the great improvements which Canterbury now exhibits" (4). Knight clearly admired Finch a great deal as he also mentioned him in his The Land We Live In, writing again of St Martin's, "The interior of this church has recently been restored by the taste and munificence of the Hon. Daniel Finch...Mr Finch saw with regret that everything...was as much neglected as that monument [of his ancestor, Sir John Finch, Lord Chancellor to King Charles I]...Mr Finch soon remedied all this" (5).
Bourne Fine Art held an exhibition in Edinburgh of Daniel Finch's paintings of Scotland (August - September 1992), painted on two tours of the West Highlands in 1839 and again in 1858. A review at the time commented, "...the noble savagery of the Highlands has been tamed in a style that reflects the influence on him of old masters like Claude and Poussin..." (6).
Daniel Finch's works are comparatively rare, and can be found in the collection of the British Museum, the Ashmolean and the Yale Centre for British Art. He painted almost exclusively in watercolour with pen & ink, painting topographical views throughout Britain.
(1) Baxter - The Oxford University Calendar - 1833 - p.252
(2) Arthur G. Credland - George Eliot and Archery - The George Eliot Review, No.31 (2000) - p.74
(3) A History of the Royal Toxophilite Society - Privately printed (1867)
(4) Charles Knight- Passages of a Working Life during Half a Century: with a Prelude of Early Reminiscences - 3 Volumes, London (1864-1865) - Vol. 3, Ch. III, p.48
(5) Charles Knight - The Land We Live In: A Pictorial & Literary Sketchbook of the British Empire - 4 Volumes, London (1847-1850) - Vol. 1, p.262
(6) Iain Glae - Scotching the Myth... - The Independent (03.09.1992)