COMING HOME: Jem Wharton
27 January - 5 April 2021
Museum of Liverpool, Liverpool
by William Daniels
COMING HOME sees the Gallery sending portraits of iconic individuals to places they are closely associated with.
James ‘Jem’ Wharton was one of the most successful boxers in Britain in the first half of the nineteenth century. His early life remains uncertain; he described himself as a Moroccan who arrived in England in 1820 but his place of birth was recorded as London in the 1851 census. Winning his first bout in 1833, he retired undefeated in 1840. In later life, he worked as a trainer and promoter and ran a tavern in Liverpool.
This portrait by the Liverpool artist William Daniels presents Wharton at the height of his career. He is shown as if pausing during a training session with the ‘colours’ from his latest victory tied around his waist. It is an early depiction of a boxer wearing gloves. At this date, their use was generally reserved for training and they only became mandatory in professional fights with the adoption of the Queensbury Rules later in the century.
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