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HAYDON, Benjamin Robert (1786-1846)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0370 BH
Held at: Queen Mary, University of London
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Full title: HAYDON, Benjamin Robert (1786-1846)
Date(s): 1826-1846
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 1 box
Name of creator(s): Haydon | Benjamin Robert | 1786-1846 | painter
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born, Plymouth, 1786; educated, Grammar schools at Plymouth and Plympton; moved to London to establish his career, 1804; exhibited his first picture, `Joseph and Mary resting on the Road to Egypt', at the Royal Academy, 1807; continued to specialise in producing large historical pictures, but struggled to stay solvent throughout his career; exhibited at the Royal Academy of Art, 1809; publicly attacked the Royal Academy in the Examiner, 1812; successfully exhibited `The Judgment of Solomon', 1814; involved with the controversy on the purchase of the Elgin marbles for the nation, 1815; set up a school to rival the Royal Academy; successfully exhibited `Christ's Entry into Jerusalem', 1820; arrested for debt, 1821; imprisoned in the King's Bench for debt and petitioned parliament to grant money for the decoration of churches and public buildings with paintings, 1823; continued to petition parliament, and ministers for support of his projects, including the decoration of the houses of parliament and scheme for schools of design; leased 58 Connaught Terrace, London from and had a close friendship with William Newton, who gave him considerable financial assistance; imprisoned for debt three more times, finally in 1830; exhibited at the Royal Academy, 1828 and again, 1842; involved in establishing an opposition school to the Somerset House government school of design, closed in 1839 after Somerset House introduced life drawing; lectured and wrote on painting and design, 1835-1846; committed suicide, 1846.
Publications: The Judgement of Connoisseurs upon Works of Art compared with that of Professional Men, in reference more particularly to the Elgin Marbles (London, 1816); New Churches considered with respect to the opportunities they afford for the Encouragement of Painting (London, 1818); Comparaison entre la tête d'un des Chevaux de Verise, qui étaient sur l'arc triomphale des Thuilleries, et qu'on dit être de Lysippe, et la Tête de Cheval d'Elgin du Parthenon (London, 1818); Descriptions of Drawings from the Cartoons and Elgin Marbles by Mr. Haydon's Pupils (London, 1819); Some Enquiry into the Causes which have obstructed the Course of Historical Painting for the last seventy years in England (1829); On Academies of Art (more particularly the Royal Academy) and their pernicious effect on the Genius of Europe. Lecture xiii (London, 1839); Thoughts on the relative value of Fresco and Oil Painting as applied to the Architectural Decorations of the Houses of Parliament (London, 1842); Lectures on Painting and Design 2 vols (London, 1844-6).


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1826-1846, comprising letters to William Newton, his landlord, 1830-1845, relating to house repairs, his debts, requests for loans, death of his daughter, 1831; legal papers relating to Haydon's imprisonment for debt in the King's Bench, 1830, namely inventory of his goods for debt, authorisation to distrain goods, notice of court hearing; letter from Sir George Philips, 1836, concerning his picture 'Christ's Agony'; receipts for Haydon's life insurance policy payments, 1833-1845; Newton's marked copy of the catalogue of the sale of Haydon's effects, 1846.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The papers are arranged largely chronologically.

Conditions governing access:

The Archives are available for access in the Archives Reading Room located on the 2nd Floor of the Mile End Library. The Archives Reading Room is open Mondays to Fridays 9am-4pm by appointment only. Contact the Archives for more information: Archives, Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 3873, email: For more information about the Archives see the website:

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopying at the discretion of the Archivist. Applications for copies for research or publication should be made to the Archivist: Main Library QMUL, 328 Mile End Rd, London E1 4NS, telephone: 020 7882 7873, email:

Finding aids:

A draft list is available at the Library.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired by Westfield College.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Letters, 1819-1846 and literary manuscripts, held by Huntington Library; manuscripts of History of Art and lectures on art, 1836-1846, held by the Victoria & Albert Museum, National Art Library (reference: MSS p31); letters to the 1st Earl of Durham, held at Lambton Park (reference: Boxes 17, 22); letters to Prince Hoare, John Murray, Sir Robert Peel and others, held by Cambridge University Fitzwilliam Museum; letters to Leigh Hunt, 1810-1845 (reference: Add MSS 38108-10, 38523 passim), correspondence with John Keats, 1816-1820 (reference: MS Facs 337) and correspondence with Sir Robert Peel, 1827-1846 (reference: Add MSS 40392-593 passim), held at British Library, Manuscript Collections; letters to Sir John Leicester, 1819-1820, held by Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies Service (reference: DLT); letters to Duke of Richmond, 1831-1842, held at West Sussex Record Office (reference: vol 3); letters to Sir Walter Scott, 1821-1831, held by National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division (reference: MSS 3892-3919 passim); letters to the Duke of Sutherland, 1832-1843, held by Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service (reference: D593); letters to Sir Thomas Talfourd, 1826-1846, held by the Bodleian Library, Special Collections and Western Manuscripts (reference: MS Don c 63).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

The Diary of Benjamin Robert Haydon edited by W B Pope 5 vols (Harvard, 1960-1963); The Life and Death of Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1786-1846 Eric George 2nd edition (Oxford, 1967); The Autobiography and Memoirs of Benjamin Robert Haydon edited by Tom Taylor, with an introduction by Aldous Huxley 2 vols (Peter Davies, 1926); Benjamin Robert Haydon David Blayney Brown, Robert Woof, Stephen Hebron (The Wordsworth Trust, 1996).

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Dictionary of National Biography CD-ROM (Oxford University Press, 1995); Historical Manuscripts Commission On-line National Register of Archives. Compiled by Julie Tancell as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
May 2001

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