NPG 2217 (1a)

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Letter from Staples to H.M. Hake, the director of the National Portrait Gallery, dated 26 November 1928, describing the circumstances of the sitting.


Lissan House,
Cookstown, Co. Tyrone
26th November, 1928

Dear Mr Hake:

Yours of the 22nd received late on Saturday, was both a great surprise and pleasure to me to see my long lost portrait of Charles Algeron Swinbourne executed on the 10th of January 1900. I would like to know, if you can tell me, how Sir Edmund Gosse became possessed of it. I never sold the picture, but lost possession of it by inadvertance, and have endeavoured to trace it for 26 years. It recalls a most important day that I spent at Watts Dunton's house lunching with him and Swinbourne. I am glad to see it is in excellent preservation and you are doubtless aware as no assignment of copyright, or Deed of Sale was ever made, the copyright is still mine.

I shall be pleased to know if it had been acquired, or left to the National Portrait Gallery.

Following the request made in yours of the 15th inst. all the drawings and Pastels beside one Oil Picture were most carefully packed up and forwarded to you carriage forward. The conté drawings are not nearly so important, in my opinion, as the Pastels and perhaps the Henniker Heaton MP, as penny postage is so much in the public eye at the present time, & he it was who originally carried it in the House of Commons.

I am glad to get all these Portraits away, and much prefer not to send them in batches, as it has taken me so much time preparing and cleaning some of them - they have got on my nerves. I should be glad to know if your Trustees, have come to any decision about the Portrait of Francis Thompson, as when they have decided to select any of those just sent, I would ask you the favour of forwarding later on to a Company in Bond Street, the Portraits which they do not require.

Believe me,
Yours faithfully,
R Ponsonby Staples.

P.S. I wish to reconsider any Prices I may had marked on a Previous List, when I know what Portraits your Trustees may desire to buy.

H.M. Hake, Esq.
Director National Portrait Gallery,