Robert Dighton

Objektnummer: 2059
Fagan: 131
Typ: Sammlermarken

Objektnummer: 1890
Fagan: 434
Typ: Sammlermarken

Text Fagan 434:

R. Dighton. See No. 131.

Text Fagan 131:

Robert Dighton. Caricaturist. He abstracted a number of Etchings and Prints, the property of the nation. The first meeting of the Trustees of the British Museum, for con­sideration of the matter was held on June 21st, 1806. The discovery of the theft was due to Mr. Samuel Woodbum, the well known art dealer, who, having been summoned to attend the Board, stated that about May, 1806, he bought of R. Dighton, Rembrandts “Coach-Landscape,” for twelve guineas, and receiving information that there was reason to suppose it might be a copy, took the etching to the Museum, on June i8thy to compare it with the two which he had heard were in the Cracherode Collection. These he found to be missing, and only a coloured copy remaining. About the same time he had also bouglit of Davis, printseller, in the Haymarket, seven Durers, in one lot, for two guineas. Four of these appeared to have marks and dates on back imperfectly erased. On leaving the Museum, Mr. Woodburn met M. de Claussin, who at once gave expression to his conviction of Dighton’s dishonesty. Shortly afterwards the culprit made the following disclosures: that he first visited the British Museum in 1794, with an introduction from a Mr. Calley to Mr. William Beloe, an Under-Librarian, in whose absence, Mr. Ellis, Assistant-Librarian, pro­ duced for his inspection Rembrandt’s etchings.
A week afterwards Dighton repeated his visit and, finding Mr. Beloe very obliging, drew for him, gratuitously, his portrait and that of his daughter. The prints were then only slightly pasted in the portfolios (guard-books), many were quite loose and easily got off. It then occurred to Dighton that some of the etchings were wanting, for he knew that the Cracherode collection of Rembrandts was (very) complete, and yet he could not find among them some that were scarce, particularly the "Bull Landscape” and Regnier Anslo with the margin, He twice carried with him a portfolio, and was thus enabled to convey the prints away. At other times he used his pocket, or the breast of his coat, as a means for hiding his spoil. The prints thus stolen he sold— the Rembrandts excepted— certain examples to Mortimer for £70, others to Davis for £100, and the remainder to Woodburn for £10;
The prints first abstracted were disposed of in 1795, the last about February, 1806. When Mr. Beloe entertained friends at dinner, Dighton’s gratitude shewed itself in his several times making presents of fish, and once in going to the extravagance of green peas at a guinea a quart. By means of these disclosures a large proportion of the most valuable prints were recovered. For his share in the transac­tion Mr. Beloe was dismissed. See No. 434.


Fagan, Luis: Collectors' Marks, London 1883

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