Fraser, James Baillie
Scottish travel writer and artist (1783-1856). Autograph letter signed. Moniack near Inverness.
4to. 1 page on bifolium. With autograph address verso.
$ 370 / 320 € (82320/BN53318)
To Edward Magrath, founder, member and secreatary of the Athenaeum Club in London concerning his subscription: "I have this day only received your letter of the 1st current; I was under the impression that an order similar to that I now inclose, had been left last year with the then secretary, but probably I was mistaken - if it should be found this may be destroyed - if not this will serve for my annual subscription [...]".
Athenaeum Club, London
The Athenaeum is a private members' club in London, founded in 1824. It is primarily a club for men and women with intellectual interests, and particularly (but not exclusively) for those who have attained some distinction in science, engineering, literature or the arts. Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday were the first chairman and secretary and 51 Nobel Laureates have been members.https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenaeum_Club,_London
- Previously in the collection of the English novelist Catherine Hutton (1756-1846), with a few biographical notes in her handwriting. - A strip of old mounting tape on verso. 2 small marginal tears.
Athenaeum Club, London
The Athenaeum is a private members' club in London, founded in 1824. It is primarily a club for men and women with intellectual interests, and particularly (but not exclusively) for those who have attained some distinction in science, engineering, literature or the arts. Humphry Davy and Michael Faraday were the first chairman and secretary and 51 Nobel Laureates have been members.
The clubhouse is located at 107 Pall Mall at the corner of Waterloo Place. It was designed by Decimus Burton in the Neoclassical style, and built by the company of Decimus's father, James Burton, the pre-eminent London property developer. Decimus was described by architectural scholar Guy Williams as "the designer and prime member of the Athenaeum, one of London's grandest gentlemens' [sic] clubs".
The clubhouse has a Doric portico, above which is a statue of the classical goddess of wisdom, Athena, from whom the club derives its name. The bas-relief frieze is a copy of the frieze of the Parthenon in Athens. The club's facilities include an extensive library, a dining room known as the coffee room, a Morning Room, a drawing room on the first floor, a restored smoking room (smoking is no longer permitted) on the upper floor, and a suite of bedrooms.
The Athenaeum was founded in 1824 at the instigation of John Wilson Croker, then Secretary to the Admiralty, who was largely responsible for the organisation and early development of the club. In 1823, Croker wrote to Sir Humphry Davy,
I will take the opportunity of repeating the proposition I have made to you about a club for literary and scientific men and followers of the fine arts. The fashionable and military clubs... have spoiled all the coffee houses and taverns so that the artist, or mere literary man... are in a much worse position.
Croker suggested 30 names for the club's organising committee, including the Earl of Aberdeen, the Earl of Ashburnham, Earl Spencer, Lord Palmerston, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Francis Chantrey, and Robert Smirke the Younger: all of those invited, except Richard Payne Knight, accepted. The first meeting of the Athenaeum, with 14 men present, was held at the rooms of the Royal Society on 16 February 1824. A Committee was formed, the names being proposed by Croker, who wrote that "all depends on having a committee with a great many good names and a few working hands". A smaller sub-committee was appointed with full powers to do what was necessary to establish the club. It was resolved that there should be 400 members, of whom 300 were to be appointed by the committee and the remainder elected by ballot. Sir Humphry Davy became the first chairman of the club and Michael Faraday the first secretary. Faraday soon found that he could not spare the time required and resigned, though he remained a member of the club. The total number of members was increased to 1,000 by December 1824.
By May 1824 temporary premises had been rented at 12 Waterloo Place, which had been constructed by the company of club member James Burton, the pre-eminent London property developer, whose son Decimus Burton, then 24 years old, was commissioned to design a permanent clubhouse. A site was chosen on the north side of Pall Mall East but was found to be too small. The next proposed site was on the east side of Trafalgar Square, but then the government decided to demolish Carlton House and develop the site and a portion of it was offered to the Athenaeum. The offer was accepted and a long lease was granted by the Crown.