1792 - 1875

Robert Mendham - self-portrait

Robert Mendham was born at Church Street, Eye, Suffolk on 22 August 1792, eighth child of a family of six brothers, a daughter, and twins who died young, of James Mendham (c1751-23 June 1804), a coachbuilder, and his wife Mary née Harrison (c1749-17 February 1830), who married at Walsham le Willows, Suffolk on 23 April 1778. On 19 March 1808, Robert was apprenticed for six years to the family coach building & wheelwright business at Eye, being freed in March 1814. In 1819 he went to London and studied at the Royal Academy Schools and was living at 12 Parliament Street, Westminster in 1821. He exhibited regularly at the Norwich Society of Artists from 1823, when he showed three pictures including 'A Study of Rembrandt', until at least 1833 when he exhibited four portraits. All his siblings died unmarried, and he inherited the family business at Eye and left London for Eye and announced on 8 April 1845 'that he intends in resuming the business of coach-making carried on by him and his late brothers for many years.' He also retained a business at Eye as an artist and is also recorded as a varnish and japan manufacturer. He married at Walsham-le-Willows, Suffolk on 9 September 1830, Anne Cater (1807-1882), daughter of farmer Jeremiah Cater and his wife Mary née Tricker of Walsham le Willows, and they had eight children, five sons and three daughters. Mendham painted animals, portraits and still life, one of his best portraits is that of Bernard Barton (1784-1849), the Quaker poet of Woodbridge. He seems to given up the coach building business when a sale of the entire stock of new and second-hand carriages and effects were offered at auction on 24-25 May 1853. Artist at Church Street, Eye 1846-1869 from where he exhibited a further portrait at the Royal Academy in 1858 also showing four works at the British Institution including ‘The Affectionate Dog’ and ‘The Miser’, between 1821 and 1858 from London or Eye, he also exhibited at the Suffolk Fine Arts Association exhibition held at the New Lecture Hall of the Mechanics' Institute in Ipswich in August 1850, several oil paintings including 'Portrait of a Lady' and 'A Portrait of the Rev Mr Hepworth'. Robert Mendham died at Eye on 14 March 1875, aged 82, being survived by his wife Anne who died on 30 June 1882, aged 75, both being buried in Eye Cemetery. Their 91-year-old unmarried daughter Elizabeth Mary, died at the family home on 23 August 1938 and his self-portrait showing him with his artist's palette and that of Bernard Barton were in her possession at her death.

Royal Academy Exhibits
from 12 Parliament Street, Westminster
1821 50 Portrait of a Young Gentleman
from Eye, Suffolk
1858 403 J Cobbold, Esq. Ipswich

Works by This Artist