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William John Bankes (1786-1855), Traveller in the East

Sitter in 2 portraits
Bankes was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College Cambridge where he met Lord Byron, who became his close friend. In 1810, he joined his father in Parliament for two years, representing Truro. In 1812 Bankes left for Spain, where he started his tour of Europe, and between 1815 and 1819 he travelled through the Near East. As a skilled draughtsman and with help from his artist friends, Bankes recorded ancient sites and monuments and copied inscriptions, amassing a vast portfolio of notes, plans and drawings. After returning from his travels he resumed his political career, representing Cambridge University 1822-26, Marlborough 1829-32 and Dorset 1832-34.

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The House of Commons, 1833

by Sir George Hayter
oil on canvas, 1833-1843
On display in Room 20 at the National Portrait Gallery
NPG 54


William John Bankes

by Henry Bone, after George Sanders (Saunders)
pen and ink, 1821 (1812)
NPG D17608