CUNNINGHAM, Richenda

1782 - 1855

Richenda Cunningham

As Richenda Gurney, she was born at Bramerton, Norwich on 5 August 1782, the sixth of the twelve children of John Gurney (1749-1809), banker, of Earlham Hall, Norwich and his wife Catherine née Bell (1755-1792). Richenda was raised in the idyllic Norwich estate of Earlham Hall and her family were members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, and Richenda's sister was one of the most prominent Quakers in British history Elizabeth (Gurney) Fry (1780—1845), the renowned prison reformer whose portrait was featured on the five-pound British note. At age ten, Richenda became a pupil of celebrated Norwich landscape painter John Crome (1768—1821), founder of the Norwich Society of Artists, the first provincial art movement in England. Crome often accompanied the Gurneys to popular travel destinations and worked closely with Cunningham, who masterfully drew her surroundings, Richenda was also instructed in painting by Henry Bright [q.v.] whilst he was in London. While many artists of her time pursued art solely for enjoyment, Cunningham engaged in profitable artistic ventures. At twenty-nine, she was the only woman to publish her work in 'The Architectural Antiquities of Great Britain', an influential sourcebook for the Gothic Revival by antiquarian John Britton (1771—1857). At thirty-four, she married at Earlham on 31 January 1816, the Anglican Revd Francis Cunningham (1785-1863), rector of Pakefield later adding the vicarage of Lowestoft St Margaret's, from where she taught, organized women’s groups, assisted the homeless, and continued to pursue art. She died on 11 August 1855 and buried in the family vault in St Margaret's Lowestoft churchyard. She was also the author 'Nine Views Taken on the Continent' (c. 1830) in which she collaborated with London printmaker Charles Joseph Hullmandel (1789—1850), a leading figure in 19th-century English lithography, and other works.




Works by This Painter