Charles Heathcote Tatham

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Charles Heathcote Tatham was born in Duke Street, Westminster and was educated at Louth grammar school in Lincolnshire, as was was his elder brother Henry, later a gun-maker and sword-cutler of Charing Cross. His eldest brother Thomas became a cabinet maker and "upholsterer to the Prince Regent" and his brothers William and John respectively a naval officer and a London solicitor

Returning to London at the age of 16, he was engaged as a clerk by Samuel Pepys Cockerell, architect and surveyor. Learning nothing there, as he thought, he ran away, and returned to his mother's lodgings, where he remained working hard for more than a year at the five orders of architecture and French ornament and studying mathematics.

When he was nearly 19, Henry Holland, the Prince of Wales's architect, received him into his house and two years later offered him £60 a year for two years to enable him to pursue his studies at Rome. Tatham had been introduced to Holland through his relative John Linnell (1729–1796), one of London's leading cabinet-makers and upholsterers and rival to Thomas Chippendale. At Holland's office Tatham designed and drew all the ornamental decorations for Drury Lane Theatre. The whole proscenium was marked off from his drawings by Charles Catton the younger, who painted the designs in fresco. The boxes in the theatre were designed by John Linnell (his originals are now in the Victoria & Albert Museum Print Room). Together with Samuel Wyatt, Tatham also designed Dropmore House in Buckinghamshire which was built in the 1790s for Lord Grenville, later the Prime Minister.

In May 1794, with Holland's help, and a loan of £100 from John Birch, surgeon-extraordinary to the king, Tatham travelled to Italy. Up to 1797 he spent his time industriously, chiefly in Rome and Naples in company with Signor Asprucci, architect to Prince Borghese and Don Isidoro Velasquez, an exhibitioner from the academy of Madrid, who both, like Tatham, were students of classical architecture.

Tatham's main friends in Italy were Canova, Angelica Kauffmann and her husband; Abbate Carlo Bonomi, Sir William and Lady Hamilton at Naples; and lastly, Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle, to whose long friendship and patronage he owed much of his success. He left Rome a month or so before Bonaparte's first attack on the papal states in 1797, returning by way of Dresden, Berlin, and Prague, making architectural drawings on the way. As the result of his Italian studies he etched and published in 1799 Ancient Ornamental Architecture at Rome and in Italy. A second edition, containing more than a hundred plates, appeared in 1803, and a German translation was published at Weimar in 1805.

His first master, Henry Holland, had also commissioned him in Italy to collect antique fragments relating to ornamental architecture. This collection arrived in England two years later. Tatham published a description of them in 1806. Tatham exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1797 to 1836, contributing in all fifty-three designs.

In 1802 Tatham designed the sculpture gallery at Castle Howard, and did work at Naworth, Cumberland, for the Earl of Carlisle; and in 1807 the picture gallery at Brocklesby, Lincolnshire, for Lord Yarborough. His etchings for the designs of these galleries, both in the severe classical style in vogue at the time, were published in 1811. Before 1816 he designed for the Duke of Bridgwater the portion of Cleveland House, St. James's, which lay to the west of the gallery.

In 1801,Tatham married Harriet Williams, the daughter of a famous button-maker in St. Martin's Lane. By her he had four sons and six daughters. His eldest son Frederick Tatham, sculptor and afterwards portrait-painter, exhibited forty-eight pictures in the Royal Academy between 1825 and 1854. He was a close friend of William Blake. His second son, Arthur, was for more than forty years rector of Broadoak and Boconnoc in Cornwall, and prebendary of Exeter Cathedral. His second daughter, Julia, in 1831, married George Richmond the portrait-painter, the father of Sir William Blake Richmond, KCB RA.

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Fine George III Regency Hall Chair, After C.H. Tatham Designs
An exceptional example of late Georgian furniture in the ‘Antique’ style, undoubtedly influenced by the designs of Charles Heathcote Tatham. ...
Peacock's Finest
Regency hall bench
A Regency mahogany hall bench in the manner of Charles Heathcote Tatham whose design was inspired by a marble classical Roman seat. A stool of the...
Moxhams Antiques
Regency Mahogany Hall Bench
The rectangular seat with raised ends, supported by fluted tapering legs headed by roundels, terminating in spade feet. Charles Heathcote Tatham...
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Thomas Coulborn & Sons