I’ve become slightly obsessed with Amelia Long, AKA Lady Farnborough, in the course of writing this here little Regency romance novel of mine.
Artist, garden designer, daughter of one art collector and wife to another — I’ve been trying to find more information on the lady, but haven’t quite struck gold yet. For one thing, I’d dearly love to see what she looked like.
From the Peppiatt Fine Art website:
Amelia Long was the daughter of Sir Abraham Hume (1749-1838), the amateur artist and collector and friend of Reynolds. She married Charles Long (1761-1838), a great friend of William Pitt, who held a number of government positions and was created 1st Baron Farnborough in 1826. She was a pupil of Thomas Girtin and Henry Edridge in the 1790s. She and her husband bought Bromley Hill, Kent in 1801 and proceeded to enlarge the house to their own designs and improved the much-admired garden which by 1809 had two picturesque walks, each a mile long. As an artist, the Somerset House Gazette described her as having ‘a talent for painting and drawing that might fairly rank with the professors of the living art.’ She showed pictures at the Royal Academy as an Honorary Exhibitor between 1807 and 1822.
Her husband, Charles Long, was fascinating in his own right, but Amelia herself only gets one intriguing paragraph at the end of his wikipedia entry:
Long married in 1793 Amelia Hume, eldest daughter of the prominent art collector Sir Abraham Hume, 2nd Baronet, by Amelia, daughter of John Egerton, Bishop of Durham. A watercolourist and garden designer, she completed her formal classical education with a visit to Italy, prior to her marriage. She designed the celebrated Italianate grounds at their country residence Bromley Hill, which subsequently became the main source for her sketches. Reputed to be the favourite pupil of Thomas Girtin, her early work is distinguished by a broad topographical style, and later work was influenced by Henry Edridge and Dr Thomas Monro. She died 15 January 1837, and a London newspaper reported that her husband Lord Farnborough was “dangerously ill in consequence of a shock occasioned by the death of his lady.” He never properly recovered his health, and died a year later. There were no children from the marriage.
Of course, you could always go ahead and buy me her sketchbook for Christmas. That would be okay with me.
View from The Gardens at Bromley Hill House, London Beyond
The thing that’s specifically fascinating to me — the thing that elevates her from the rest of the well-born ladies who were handy with a watercolor brush — is that she actually designed and created gardens and broader landscapes, when this sort of pursuit was still a relatively new and limited phenomenon.
One interesting fellow who was pursuing this line of work at the time is Humphry Repton, who seems to have parlayed little more than a talent for artistic landscape renderings with a lively imagination and good social connections into a viable business as a landscape designer. In this sense he was following directly in the footsteps of Lancelot “Capability” Brown — except that Repton evidently limited his consulting process to imagining what a landscape might look like if improved according to his suggestions, and then painting it for you. The execution was up to you.
Lady Farnborough was of course limited to working on her own estate, but she seems to have been involved in both the planning and the execution of her gardens’ redesign. As the brief biographical sketches above suggest, this work was quite enthusiastically well received. It’s a pity that she didn’t get a chance to do more.
And of course, there is that outstanding detail about how well-loved and deeply mourned she was by her husband, which I will repeat here, because I am swoony and morbid like that:
She died 15 January 1837, and a London newspaper reported that her husband Lord Farnborough was “dangerously ill in consequence of a shock occasioned by the death of his lady.” He never properly recovered his health, and died a year later. There were no children from the marriage.
It makes me crazy that I can’t find a portrait of her.