The Farington Diary
The Farington Diary
Joseph Farington, R.A., who studied under Richard Wilson, was the scion of an old Lancashire family, and himself one of the most extraordinary men of his era, 1747-1821. He was not a brilliant artist, but his topographical drawings known to us are remarkable records of things seen with eyes wide open to the peculiar configuration and the intimate beauty of a landscape conveyed by him with great assurance and simplicity in the water-colours, which, during his lifetime, were held generally in high esteem, in spite of the fact that his contributions to the public galleries were infrequent.
From the year 1773 he ceased to exhibit at the Incorporated Society, and withdrew from it as a member. In June of that year he went to Houghton Hall, in Norfolk, the seat of the Earl of Orford, and there remained for three years, employed along with his younger brother, and pupil, George Farington, in making drawings of its pictures, which were sold in 1799 to the Empress Catherine of Russia at a cost of £40,555, the value set on the Collection by Benjamin West and Cipriani, to the astonishment of Horace Walpole. In July, 1776, Farington went to Keswick in Cumberland, where he continued principally to reside until 1780, when in December of that year he removed to London and established himself at 35, Upper Charlotte Street, Fitzroy Square. Between 1773 and 1778 Farington did not exhibit anywhere, but in the latter year he began to contribute regularly to the Royal Academy up to 1799, afterwards at intervals, showing there for the last time in 1813.
The last entry in his Diary is dated Sunday, December 30th, 1821, the day of his tragic death. The words run:
"Rose 10 after 8--a dull moist morning. Thermr. at noon 44 1/2. Wind West. Didsbury Church [South Manchester, near which he had been staying with his brother, R. A. Farington, at Parr's Wood.] I went to morn'g and afternoon, my Brother remaining at home on acct. of his cold, and Eliza being unwell. At Didsbury Church I spoke to Mrs. Geo. Philips, Mr. & Mrs. Fieldin, & Mr. Birleg.--"
Following this, on the same page, his niece wrote:
"Mark the uncertainty of this life!!! My venerable respected and affectionately regarded Uncle--So wrote his day's notes,-- previous to setting out for the Evening Service at Didsbury Church . . .