Dalton, Richard

, brother to the preceding, keeper of the pictures, medals, &c. and antiquary to his majesty, was originally apprenticed to a coach-painter in Clerkenwell, and after quitting his master, went to Rome to pursue the study of painting, where, about the year 1749, an invitation was given him by Roger Kynaston, esq. of Shrewsbury, in company with Mr. (afterwards sir John) Frederick, to accompany them to Naples. From that city they proceeded in a felucca, along the coast of Calabria, crossed over to Messina, and thence to Catania, where they met with lord Charlemont, Mr. Burton, afterwards lord Cunningham, Mr. Scott, and Mr. Murphy. They then sailed together in a ship, hired by lord Charlemont and his party, from Leghorn, with the intention of making that voyage; the felucca followed first to Syracuse, then | to the isle of Malta, and afterwards separated; but Mr. Dalton, accompanying the party in the ship, made the voyage to Constantinople, several parts of Greece, and Egypt. This voyage led to his publication, which appeared in 1781, called, “Explanation of the set of prints relative to the manners, customs, &c. of the present inhabitants of Egypt, from discoveries made on the spot, 1749, etched and engraved by Richard Daiton, esq.” On his return to England, he was, by the interest of his noble patron lord Charlemont, introduced to the notice of his present majesty, then prince of Wales, who, after his accession to the throne, appointed him his librarian, an office for which it would appear he was but indifferently qualified, if Dr. Morell’s report be true.*


Dr. Morell reported that Mr. Dalton, in garbling his majesty’s library, threw out several Caxtons, as things that “might be got again every day.

Soon after, it being determined to form a noble collection of drawings, medals, &c. Mr. Daltou was sent to Italy in 1763, to collect the various articles suited to the intention. The accomplishment of that object, however, was unfortunately attended with circumstances which gave rise to sir Robert Strange’s memorable letter of complaint to the earl of Bute, in which he says, indignantly, although not altogether unjustly, that “persecution haunted him, even beyond the Alps, in the form of Mr. Dalton.” On this subject it may here be necessary only to refer to sir Robert’s letter, and to the authorities in the note.

The object of Mr. Dalton’s tour being achieved, he returned to London, and when the royal cabinet was adjusted, his department of librarian was changed to that of keeper of the drawings and medals; and in 1778, upon the death of Mr. Knapton, his majesty appointed him surveyor of the pictures in the palaces. Upon his first appointment at court, he had apartments at St. James’s palace, where he resided until his death Feb. 7, 1791. He was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1767; and when the society of artists was incorporated by charter, he was appointed treasurer, but soon resigned the office, in consequence of the dissentions which took place in that institution. In 1764, he married Esther, daughter of Abraham Deheulle, a silk weaver in Spitalfields, by whom he had a considerable fortune. Having no issue by her, he left 1000l. to a natural son, after the death of his brother Dr. | Dalton’s widow; and directed all his pictures, antiques, drawings, &c. and other personal property, to be sold for the benefit of his servants.

As an artist, Mr. Edwards is of opinion that he never acquired any great powers. In one of the early exhibitions was a drawing executed by him; the subject, an Egyptian dancing girl, which was the only specimen he ever exhibited: but he published several works at different periods of his life. The first was the collection of prints after the antique statues, a few of which he etched himself, but they cannot be considered as masterly performances. Some of these are dated 1744; the names of the others may be found in our authorities, with many, and some not very pleasing, traits of personal character. 1


Edwards’s Supplement to Walpole.—Gent. Mag. LXI. 188, 195, 526, LXVI. 746.