Richard Lane was the most fashionable and successful portrait lithographer of the early nineteenth century and he executed a number of printed portraits of Queen Victoria. This exquisitely rendered profile drawing was made in preparation for a print of the young Queen Victoria which was published the day after her accession on 20th June 1837. A rare survival (the only other recorded slightly later example is in the Royal Collection) and of outstanding quality, this delicate portrait shows the young queen at the beginning of her long reign and formed the basis of a hugely popular lithograph.
At the age of sixteen Lane was apprenticed to the line engraver Charles Heath. After completing his apprenticeship he worked as an engraver for some years, and in 1827 produced a print after Sir Thomas Lawrence's Red Riding Hood. By this time he had become dissatisfied with the commercialization of engraving and had abandoned it for lithography, a process Heath had been one of the first to practise in Britain. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1824 and continued exhibiting there regularly until his death, and also occasionally at the Suffolk Street Gallery. He was elected an ARA in 1827. Not long before this he had dedicated his Studies of Figures by Gainsborough (1825) to the president of the Royal Academy, Sir Thomas Lawrence. Lane produced most of the plates of this work in tinted lithography in imitation of Gainsborough's crayon originals, many of which were drawn on tinted paper and heightened with white. The outcome was one of the most remarkable applications of tinted lithography in the 1820s.
Lane’s specialism was portraiture, and he produced hundreds of lithographs of this kind, including portraits of members of the royal family, leading artists and actors, and other notable figures, among them Lord Byron. The quality of his portrait lithography was reflected in the fees he charged, which in 1849 were sometimes as high as £100.
Victoria first sat for him in 1829 when she was a ten-year-old princess – the drawing is now in the Royal Collection – he then made drawings of her shortly after she became queen in 1837, when he was appointed Lithographer to the Queen, and three years later to the Prince Consort. In each of the prints the queen is seen in profile, her hair dressed in a distinctive style – some show her wearing a Ferronière, a pendant on her forehead, as in the present drawing and others a wreath of flowers – with a plaited bun. Given the high quality of the present drawing, it may well be identifiable with one exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1838, possibly as no. 590 ‘Profile of Her Majesty’ and this is given further credence by the survival of a fragment of an old label dating this drawing to 1838.
Depictions of the young Queen Victoria are rare and this beautifully rendered, tinted profile drawing is an important addition to her iconography, made by the most important and celebrated lithographer of the early nineteenth century.