Hercules Brabazon Brabazon

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Hercules Brabazon Brabazon

by William Rothenstein
Red and black chalk, with white heightening, on grey paper, circa 1895
10 in. x 8 in. (254 mm x 203 mm)
NPG 6687

Inscriptionback to top

Inscr. in pencil top right: ‘D206’;
oval studio stamp in red ink centre left: ‘GR’.

This portraitback to top

‘A cultured country gentleman, whose passion for painting in water-colours (he carried his paint box with him wherever he went) was held to be an amiable trait, he had been quietly filling portfolios with lovely drawings for 60 years,’ wrote William Rothenstein of his sitter. ‘One night, dining with a friend, Sargent noticed some drawings on the wall, and was told they were Brabazon’s. He at once recognised their unique qualities; and Brabazon at the age of 80 found himself suddenly accepted as a master of his craft, elected a member of the New English Art Club, and enjoying the esteem of the younger generation.’ [1]

The circumstances leading to Rothenstein’s sensitive portraits of Brabazon (see also ‘All known portraits, By other artists, 1894’) are unknown. The two studies are of a date, and were catalogued by John Rothenstein as drawn in 1894. [2] William Rothenstein had been an honorary member of the NEAC since 1888 and Brabazon, a familiar figure ‘honoured and admired by us youngsters’, had been elected to the club in 1891.[3] The two men moved in similar circles, Brabazon always self-effacing, admired yet ‘almost embarassingly’ deferential towards the younger generation. He was grateful to Rothenstein for his articles on Goya in the Saturday Review and encouraged him to write further on an artist whom he considered unjustly neglected.[4]

See NPG Portrait Set 'Prominent men and women: drawings and paintings by Sir William Rothenstein, 1895–1939'

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) Rothenstein 1931–2, vol.1, pp.188–9.
2) Rothenstein 1926, p.6, nos 44, 45.
3) Rothenstein 1931–2, vol.1, p.188.
4) Rothenstein 1931–2, vol.1, p.188, letter from H.B. Brabazon to W. Rothenstein, undated.

Physical descriptionback to top

Head-and-shoulders, three-quarters to right, gaze to front, balding, white moustache, wearing stiff white collar and black knotted tie.

Provenanceback to top

Coll. the artist; on loan to the NPG from Sir John Rothenstein, the artist’s son, 1977, L168(1); Treasury allocation: acceptance in lieu of tax (AIL), from estate of Elizabeth, Lady Rothenstein, 2005.

Exhibitionsback to top

Royal Society of Portrait Painters, 11th exhibition, 1901 (94): either the drawing now British Museum, 1904,0116.1 or NPG 6687.

View all known portraits for Hercules Brabazon Brabazon