Sir Frank (Athelstane) Swettenham
1 of 7 portraits of Sir Frank (Athelstane) Swettenham
Sir Frank (Athelstane) Swettenham
by John Singer Sargent
oil on canvas, 1904
67 1/4 in. x 43 1/2 in. (1708 mm x 1105 mm)
Bequeathed by Sir Frank (Athelstane) Swettenham, 1971
Sitterback to top
- Sir Frank (Athelstane) Swettenham (1850-1946), Colonial administrator. Sitter in 7 portraits.
Artistback to top
- John Singer Sargent (1856-1925), Portrait and landscape painter and muralist. Artist associated with 72 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.
This portraitback to top
A portrait of the colonial administrator Sir Frank Swettenham was commissioned in 1903 from the leading society portraitist of the time, the American artist John Singer Sargent, by the Malay Straits Association of London. This portrait of Swettenham by Sargent began as a copy of the original portrait by one of Sargent's copyists but Sargent took over the painting and Swettenham gave fresh sittings. He is shown surrounded by accessories evoking his Far Eastern career: a huge globe just visible in the top left-hand corner hovers over a chair draped with the magnificent Malayan brocades that he collected. Swettenham wears his white uniform and adopts an elegant, Van Dyckian pose, leaning against the chair and gripping it with his right hand, his clawlike fingers providing a note of tension.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- Victorian Portraits Resource Pack, p. 37
- Funnell, Peter, Victorian Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery Collection, 1996, p. 37
- Funnell, Peter (introduction); Marsh, Jan, A Guide to Victorian and Edwardian Portraits, 2011, p. 58
- Gibson, Robin, Painting The Century: 101 Portrait Masterpieces 1900-2000, 2000 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 26 October 2000 to 4 February 2001), p. 59
- Gibson, Robin, Treasures from the National Portrait Gallery, 1996, p. 103
- Redford, Bruce, John Singer Sargent and the art of allusion, 2016, p. 44
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 601
- 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. 183
- Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 180
Subjects & Themesback to top
Events of 1904back to top
Current affairsBritain and France sign the Entente Cordiale, an agreement which resolves a number of longstanding colonial disputes (including a Declaration respecting Egypt and Morocco), signalling growing anxiety about the risk of future German aggression. Although not militarily binding, the agreement, negotiated between French foreign minister Théophile Delcassé, and Lord Lansdowne, the British Foreign Secretary, establishes a diplomatic understanding between the two countries.
Art and scienceJ. M. Barrie's Peter Pan is first performed at the Duke of York's Theatre in London. Charting the fantastical adventures of Peter, 'the boy who never grew up', the Darling children and the villainous Captain Hook in Neverland, many adaptations have been made of the story.
The painter Gwen John settles in Paris, where she becomes the lover and model of the sculptor Auguste Rodin, modelling for his sculpture Muse.
InternationalJapan attacks the Russian Navy at Port Arthur, sparking the Russo-Japanese war. Hostility was prompted by the rival imperialist ambitions of the Russian and Japanese empires in Manchuria, North East China, and Korea, considered by Japan to be an essential buffer against colonisation by Western Powers. Japan wins a series of victories against Russia which transforms the balance of power in East Asia, and undermines the Tsar's rule in Russia.
See this portrait
On display in Room 23 at the National Portrait Gallery
- Portrait of the Day: Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
10 December, 12:30
Tell us more
Help us conserve a portrait of a female adventurer, poet and medical pioneer