BROWNING, Robert (1782-1866, father of the poet). A collection of fifty-eight sketches (portraits or caricatures) including 51 in pen and ink, heightened with watercolour, illustrating three short tales, with explanatory dialogue and narrative written below in autograph; and seven portraits in pencil without text, the sketches measuring approximately 155 x 115 mm, mounted on the numbered leaves of an album, oblong 4to, blanks, contemporary leather-backed boards; in a black morocco case. Provenance: purchased from James F. Drake, New York, Woodin Sale, 2 December 1941, lot 73, $20.
The illustrated stories include: 'The Tragedy', 12 pages; 'The Swindlers', 20 pages; and 'The Enquiry', 17 pages, the last concerning a group of unprincipled tavern characters taken in by an apparently gullible young man who at the end turns out to be a thief. The subjects of the pencil portraits include 'Barabbas', the Brownings' housekeeper, caricatures of Keats and Dr Johnson, and three others.
Robert Browning senior was an aimiable and affectionate parent, and the caricatures may have been intended for the entertainment of his children. In his youth, after an unhappy period administering a plantation in St Kitts, he had hoped to pursue his interest in painting, but his father refused to subsidise him. He exercised his natural ability as a caricaturist in the style of Gillray or Cruikshank, while his personal taste was for Dutch genre paintings. After Elizabeth's death, Robert and Pen Browning often passed the summer with Robert's father, in France.