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Sir James Brooke

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Sir James Brooke, by Sir Francis Grant, 1847 -NPG 1559 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Sir James Brooke

by Sir Francis Grant
1847
56 1/4 in. x 43 3/4 in. (1429 mm x 1111 mm)
NPG 1559

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed in stencil on the stretcher: (904) Sir F. Grant

This portraitback to top

Brooke, in undress naval uniform, is set against an idealized Eastern landscape, presumably intended to represent Sarawak. The picture was apparently painted as an act of friendship, and given to Brooke by the artist (Grant's 'Sitters Book' lists no price against the entry for the portrait). The artist's nephew, Charles Grant, was a friend of Brooke (see E. Hahn, James Brooke of Sarawak (1953), pp 128-9), and Charles' sister, Annie, eventually married Brooke's nephew, Brooke Johnson (later Brooke Johnson Brooke), the eldest son of the Rev F. C. Johnson (see above). The portrait was painted shortly after Brooke's return to England on 1 October 1847. Henry Keppel records in his diary for 20 October 1847: 'Accompanied Brooke to Frank Grant's, who was painting his portrait, indeed a striking likeness. Grant the first artist in the country'. It is not known why the portrait did not pass to Brooke's heir, his younger nephew Charles Johnson Brooke, but to the latter's father, the Rev F. Johnson; there was, however, a good deal of acrimony over the succession (the elder nephew was passed over for the younger), so the portrait may not have been treated as an heirloom, hence its sale. It is not mentioned in Brooke's surviving will in Somerset House. He had originally left all his possessions to Baroness Burdett-Coutts, but later revoked this will; the text of it is given in O. Rutter, Rajah Brooke and Baroness Burdett Coutts (1935), pp 156-7. [1]
The portrait was engraved by W. Holl, published J. Murray, 1848 (example in NPG), for Captain R. Mundy's Narrative of Events in Borneo and Celebes from the Journals of James Brooke; it was also engraved by G. R. Ward (example in NPG). A copy is owned by the Borneo Company (part of the Inchcape Group), London, and others are recorded.

Footnotesback to top

1) I would like to record my thanks to W. Craib Lang, who provided invaluable help in establishing the history of the portrait.

Physical descriptionback to top

Healthy complexion, brown eyes, brown hair and whiskers. Dressed in a white shirt, dark blue neckerchief; dark blue jacket with gilt buttons, dark blue belt with brass buckle, white trousers. Holding a white handkerchief, dark blue garment under his left hand. Rock on which his right hand rests greenish-brown. Rock above brown. Landscape at right greenish-grey. Blue and orange sky.

Provenanceback to top

Presented to Brooke by the artist; the Rev F. C. Johnson, Brooke's brother-in-law; sold from Johnson's estate, Christie's, 30 June 1877 (lot 142); purchased by Brooke's secretary, Sir Spenser St John, and bequeathed by him, 1910.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Ormond, Early Victorian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1973, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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