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Sir Francis Grant

4 of 21 portraits of Sir Francis Grant

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Sir Francis Grant

by John Ballantyne
oil on canvas, 1866
28 in. x 36 1/4 in. (711 mm x 921 mm)
Purchased, 1979
Primary Collection
NPG 5239

Sitterback to top

  • Sir Francis Grant (1803-1878), Portrait painter and President of the Royal Academy. Sitter associated with 21 portraits, Artist associated with 102 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • John Ballantyne (1815-1897), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 9 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

Here John Ballantyne shows Grant in his studio. Surrounded by his portraits of Britain's great and good, he stands at the easel of a large full-length portrait, the identity of which is not disclosed to the viewer.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 259
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 171 Read entry

    Gilt compo on pine, mitred and pinned, the small hollows on either side of the laurel-leaf top edge and next to the sight-edge ornament burnished on a red bole, the drying cracks in the compo clearly visible on the top edge and elsewhere. 4 inches wide plus 1 1⁄ 4 inch slip.

    The Scottish artist, John Ballantyne, painted a series of pictures of artists in their studios between 1862 and 1867.1 Most of them were exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh or at Henry Graves & Co. in London. They were probably framed in London where Ballantyne had settled in, or soon after, 1860. This portrait of Sir Francis Grant, President of the Royal Academy, is particularly richly framed in a laurel-leaf top frame with wide curving sides decorated with little flowers set within a diamond mesh of interlacing strapwork. It is identical to the frame on the portrait of David Roberts from the same series.2

    1 See Richard Ormond, 'Artists in their Studios', Christie's Review of the Season 1979, 1979, pp 72-5. Two other portraits from the series belong to the National Portrait Gallery; William Holman Hunt has an unusual black ripple frame and Sir Edwin Landseer a gilt fluted frame of a type also found on the portrait of Erskine Nicol (Christie's, 7 June 1996, lot 642). Four of the series are at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery of which the portrait of Sir Noel Paton has a laurel-leaf top frame which is otherwise plain while the others have later plain gilt frames (information from Stephen Lloyd).

    2 Exhibited at Graves 1865-6, according to Ormond, and recently exhibited at the Fine Art Society, Spring '96, 1996, no.3, reproduced without frame.

Events of 1866back to top

Current affairs

After the failure of Lord Russell's premiership due to party disuniity, the Earl of Derby begins his third, brief, term as Prime Minister.
Dr Thomas Barnardo opens the first of his children's homes in the East End of London to care for children left orphaned by the recent cholera outbreak. The charity, now called Barnado's, is still running, although it has changed its focus from the direct care of children to fostering and adoption.

Art and science

Algernon Charles Swinburne causes controversy by publishing his volume of verse, Poems and Ballads, in which he challenges Victorian moral and religious values. The poems were attacked for their anti-Christianity and sensuality.
The botanist Gregor Mendel discovers laws of heredity, after cross-breeding pea-plants, observing how inherited traits are passed on to succeeding generations, laying the foundations for modern genetics.

International

The Peace of Prague is signed following the end of the Austro-Prussian war. Although lenient towards Austria, the loser, Austria's refusal to cede Venetia to Napoleon III, and in turn Italy, resulted in the Hapsburg's permanent exclusion from German affairs. Prussia thus establishes herself as the only major power among the German states.
A Civil Rights Act is passed in the US, guaranteeing the legal rights of freed slaves.

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