A fine half-length portrait of a Scottish lady, by the eminent portrait artist Sir Francis Grant, C1850. The subject wears a tartan stole over a fashionable off the shoulder black gown, dressed with a gold broach and necklace. She wears a lace cap decorated with roses and her hair is parted in the centre and looped over her ears in the style of the day. The artist has posed the sitter next to a rocky outcrop set in a wooded landscape, suggestive of the Highlands. In her hand can be seen a lily of the valley flower, which symbolises purity, sincerity and happiness. Her dress and bearing indicate that this is a lady of some standing.
Sir Francis Grant was born in 1803 in Kilgaston, Perthshire. He was the younger son of a Scottish nobleman, Francis Grant laird of Kilgaston, and elder brother of General Sir Hope Grant GCB. He attended Harrow School and initially trained as a lawyer before turning to painting as a profession in the 1830’s, in the hope of increasing his fortune. Grant married twice, the first time to Amelia Farquharson and the second time to Isabella Norman, the third daughter of Mr and Lady Elizabeth Norman, and the niece of the Duke of Rutland. He was encouraged in his early career by Sir Walter Scott, the father of one of his friends, and the Earl of Elgin who quickly saw the potential in him, lending him pictures from his collection to study. He had a gentleman’s love of field sports, often painting the Melton Hunt around Melton Mowbray, where he settled. There he took painting lessons from John Ferneley Snr and the two artists became friends often collaborating on numerous works.
Grant first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1834, with a work entitled ‘Melton Breakfast’. Following a series of other successful sporting pictures (including ‘The Melton Hunt’ and ‘The Cottesmore Hunt’), he became an established painter and started receiving commissions for portraits from the aristocracy. His social connections and flattering style ensured him quick success and in 1840, his portrait of Queen Victoria and Melbourne riding in Windsor Park made him one of the most desirable portrait painters of the day. He painted numerous portraits of the monarch as well as the prominent figures of his age – politicians, soldiers, members of the aristocracy and landed gentry introducing a grandeur and scale not seen since Thomas Lawrence.
He was an associate member of the Royal Academy and was elected full Academian in 1842. He obtained a gold medal at the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris, where his work ‘Ascot Hunt’ was greatly admired. In 1866, on the death of Charles Eastlake, Grant was elected Academy President. He was knighted soon afterwards and other honours followed including a degree from Oxford University. As president he was highly regarded, supervising the construction of the extended Burlington House and the relocation there, and was the prime mover in the establishment of the Winter Exhibitions. Despite his presidential duties, he continued to exhibit works at the RA.
Grant died suddenly at his residence The Lodge in Melton Mowbray on 5 October, 1878. The Times wrote an obituary calling him a ‘thoroughly english painter’, and saying, ‘future Generations will be indebted to his pencil for his likeness of many of the personages who will then illustrate the social and political life of our time’.
Examples of his work are held by numerous public art collections including the Dundee Art Gallery, Hastings Museum, Glasgow Museum, Hartlepool Museum, Maidstone Museum, National Library of Wales, the National Trust, Oxford Museum, Royal Academy of Arts and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, to name a few.
|Presentation||The painting is housed in a new, English made gilt frame which is in excellent condition.|
|Condition||As with all of our original antique oil paintings, this work is offered in ready to hang gallery condition, having been professionally cleaned, restored and revarnished.|
|Image Size||35.5 inches x 27.25 inches (90cm x 69.5cm)|
|Framed Size||43.25 inches x 35 inches (110cm x 89cm)|