Charles Heathcote Tatham was a celebrated architect who built and did additions to many Stately Homes of England. He also designed and built the Portrait Gallery at Castle Howard near York. His daughter Julia married the painter George Richmond.
Our miniature was probably painted around 1830 during the time that Richmond was giving drawing lessons to Mr. Tatham’s daughters, and where he met and fell in love with Julia. The miniature-portrait is a copy taken from a painting by Thomas Kearsley (1773-circa 1802) exhibited: R.A. 1799. No. 161. Later the portrait by Kearsley was owned by George Richmond until it was sold at Christie’s a year after he died, 1 May 1897. In 1874 George Richmond also painted a larger version of the portrait onto canvas (23 x 19 in.) that was nearer to the size of the original (24 x 20 in.) Richmond’s 1874 version of the portrait was sold at Sotheby’s in London on July 4. 2001. Lot 134. For the total price of £5000.
In 1799 Charles Tatham entered a Competition for the design of the Nelson Memorial in Trafalgar Square. Owing to a delay in the result of the Competition he published his designs, and it is possible that the ensuing Court Cases about this matter were the reason for his diminished financial circumstances. In 1834 “dire misfortune befell”. His wife, Harriet, died, and his house and valuable collections were sold. In 1837 he was appointed Warden of Greenwich Hospital, and afterwards Holy Trinity Hospital, Greenwich. (Some accounts say it was Norfolk College, Greenwich.) He died in 1842 and was buried in the Chapel of Holy Trinity Hospital, Greenwich. A beautiful watercolour portrait in his uniform of that time, was painted by his son, Frederick Tatham, R.A. and is in possession of Mr. Bill Tatham in Johannesburg. It was given to him by the Richmond family. A large Crayon portrait by B. R. Haydon dated 1823 is in the Print Room at the British Museum.
George Richmond and Julia Tatham, eloped to Gretna Green to be married on January 24, 1831 after Charles Tatham, ‘having fallen on hard times’ withdrew his support for Julia’s marriage on receiving an offer for his daughter’s hand from a rich an elderly peer. Palmer lent Richmond £40 and Richmond also noted a loan of £12 from Henry Walter. It was a happy marriage, the couple remained in love throughout their long years together.