Robert Browning

RB by Page Robert Browning
Oil on panel by William Page, 1854
Dimensions: 20" x 16"
Location: Research Hall

William Page, a pre-Rephaelite artist, was experimenting with the paint and chemicals he used to treat his canvasses, and this particular chemical combination caused the painting to begin darkening after four or five years. The portrait was painted on bitumen wood panel. Despite an attempt to restore the painting, it may eventually turn completely black.

This portrait was Elizabeth Barrett Browning's favorite of her husband. It is believed that Robert Browning sat for two hours at a time for 54 sittings to have the portrait painted. The portrait was secured from Wilfrid Meynell in 1948.

RB by Lawrence Robert Browning
Oil on Canvas by Samuel Laurence, 1866
Dimensions: 30" x 25"
Location: Research Hall

Samuel Laurence (1812-1884) also did a pastel drawing of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and a pencil and chalk sketch of Pen Browning, c. 1853. These pieces hang in the Elizabeth Barrett Browning Salon on the third floor of the Library.

RB by Cameron Robert Browning
Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1870
Dimensions: 8 1/4" x 7 5/8"
Location: Research Hall

This signed photograph was taken at the home of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who was a friend of Robert Browning's and neighbor to Julia Margaret Cameron. Robert Browning, 58, is shown with a cloak thrown around his shoulders. This was Robert's own copy of the photo. The photograph was a gift from Dr. Merle B. Stokes.

RB by Lehmann Robert Browning
Oil on Canvas by Rudolf Lehmann, 1875
Dimensions: 45" x 34"
Location: Meditation Foyer
RB by Fisher Robert Browning
Oil on Canvas by William Fisher, 1877
Dimensions: 36 x 27 1/2"
Location: Treasure Room

William Fisher (1817 - 1895), Irish portrait and subject painter, was pleased to have literary men sit for portraits. He enjoyed their companionship and conversation and therefore did not seek commissions from them. The three-quarter-length portrait shows Browning seated, holding a book, believed to be the Old Yellow Book, the source for his poem, The Ring and the Book. The painting was a gift to Baylor University from the Senior Class of 1932.

RB by Pen Browning Robert Browning
Oil by Pen Browning, 1881
Dimensions: 18" x 14"
Location: Research Hall

This is a companion portrait to the one of Joseph Milsand by Pen Browning. Pen designed this original frame.

RB by Curtis Robert Browning
Oil on Panel by Ralph W. Curtis, 1881
Dimensions: 11" x 8"
Location: Treasure Room

Ralph Curtis painted Robert Browning's portrait simultaneously with three other portraitists to avoid Browning's having to sit for individual portraits. The Armstrong Browning Library has all but one of the four portraits painted during this sitting. The Curtis portrait was given to the Armstrong Browning Library in April of 1952.

RB by Pennington Robert Browning
Oil on Panel by Harper Pennington, 1881
Dimensions: 8" x 6"
Location: Treasure Room

Pennington described Browning's face as "...a study of indomitable spirit, gentle melancholia, and majestic dignity." This portrait was one of the four commissioned by Mrs. Arthur Bronson which included Ralph Curtis, Julian Story, and Charles Forbes. The Pennington portrait was a gift to the Armstrong Browning Library in 1944 from John Welsh on behalf of Sigma Tau Delta, the honorary English society at Baylor University.

RB by Peters Robert Browning
Oil on Panel by Richard Peters, c. 1881-1884
Dimensions: 8 3/4" x 6"
Location: Treasure Room

This painting is similar to paintings done by Ralph Curtis, Cherubino Kirchmayr, Harper Pennington, and Julian Story, although the actual date is unknown. It was once thought that the work had been painted in 1884, but Robert Browning did not visit Venice (where the portrait was painted) in that year. The painting was given to the Armstrong Browning Library in 1981 by Robert Manning in honor of his brother, Otho A. Manning, L.L.B., 1941.

RB by P. Browning Robert Browning
Oil by Pen Browning, 1882
Dimensions: 21" x 16 1/2"
Location: Research Hall
RB by Kirchmayer Robert Browning
Watercolor by Cherubino Kirchmayr, 1883
Dimensions: 8 3/4" x 6 3/4"
Location: Treasure Room

Browning is portrayed in a thoughtful mood, with features that are slightly indistinct. The portrait was presented to Baylor in 1945 by John Welsh, a member of Sigma Tau Delta, Baylor's honorary English society.

RB by Richmond Robert Browning
Oil on Canvas by Sir William Blake Richmond, 1888
Dimensions: 25 1/2" x 19 1/2"
Location: Treasure Room

Richmond painted Browning for the pleasure of the task itself as well as for the pleasure in possessing a picture of his good friend. He felt his portrait captured the true Robert Browning, "...a very different man from the social one. In society he never gave himself away—he respected himself too much for that." The portrait was given to the Armstrong Browning Library in 1950 by Mr. and Mrs. John Leddy-Jones of Dallas, Texas.

RB by Pen B. Robert Browning
Oil by Pen Browning, May 1889
Dimensions: 60" x 42"
Location: Entrance Foyer

The gold-leaf wooden frame, designed by Pen Browning, is filled with bursting pomegranates. Dr. A. J. Armstrong visited the artist in his home in 1909. Pen Browning told him that he considered this portrait the best likeness of his father. This was the last formal portrait done of Robert Browning, 77, who died at his son's home in Venice a few months later. It was a gift of the Senior Class of 1919.

Note: The bells and pomegranates theme can be seen in several places in the Martin Entrance Foyer, the room in which this painting hangs. They are prominent in the stained glass windows, bronze entrance doors, molded plaster ceiling, inlaid in a brass border on the terrazzo floor, and in the frame created by Pen for his father's portrait. Browning titled a series of pamphlets Bells and Pomegranates, a name symbolizing the music and meaning of poetry. The religious associations of the term are found in Exodus, where the border of the high priest's robe is described as being decorated with bells and pomegranates.

RB by Giles Robert Browning
Pencil Sketch by Major Godfrey Douglas Giles, 1889
Dimensions: 6" x 4"
Location: Treasure Room

This sketch by Godfrey Douglas Giles (1857 - 1941) was made shortly before Browning's death in December of 1889; in fact, it is the last likeness of Robert Browning drawn from life. Major Giles was visiting Pen Browning in Venice at the same time that Browning was visiting, and he asked the poet to sit for a sketch. Below the drawing is Browning's signature in verse:

Here I'm gazing wide awake,
Robert Browning, no mistake!
Venice, Nov. 24. 89