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Sir John Hare

1 of 23 portraits of Sir John Hare

Sir John Hare, by Harry Furniss, circa 1885-1923 -NPG 4095(5) - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Sir John Hare

by Harry Furniss
Pen and ink with traces of pencil on Bristol board, circa 1885-1923
15 1/2 in. x 12 3/8 in. (394 mm x 314 mm)
NPG 4095(5)

Inscriptionback to top

Signed in ink, lower right: 'Hy.F.'

This portraitback to top

Harry Furniss and John Hare were old Garrick Club acquaintances. [1] And from the 1890s they would also meet at a riding club called the Two Pins, to which Furniss – along with many of the Punch staff – enthusiastically subscribed. In his 1925 history of the riding club, Furniss’s references to Hare, something of a fair-weather sportsman, hint at irritation:

Although Sir John Hare was a member of the club, he only attended two or three meets. He excused himself for a reason which actors are fond of pressing, and which seems to me singularly mistaken. They declare that actors require a very long Sunday morning rest to recover from their arduous week of acting … hence the result that Hare seldom favoured the Two Pins with his presence. [2]

In fact the irritation was mutual. Hare seems to have hated this caricature, which Furniss made of him for his Garrick Gallery Caricatures (plate 29). NPG 4095(5) shows him hovering over a card table, glaring over a pair of pince-nez fixed to his (in real life) bulbous nose. Such satire was of course not reserved for Hare alone; see NPG collection 4095(1–11) to gauge the general outrageousness. In Furniss’s words: ‘Sir John Hare enjoyed a reputation for humour. He could be very humorous on the stage, but he was an exceedingly crotchety old man away from the theatre. He was, in fact, very like the part he so often played – extremely severe and frightfully critical. When I caricatured the members of the Garrick Club, he showed his entire lack of humour by kicking the album down the stairs and cutting me for the remainder of his life. [3]

Card-playing, according to his son-in-law George Pleydell Bancroft, was one of Hare’s favourite pastimes. But he was not poker faced enough to play well: ‘It was often easy, sitting opposite him, to read in his face the nature of his hand. If it was good his expression could be seraphic, if bad his favourite cigarette had woefully deteriorated or the draught in the room was unbearable. He was delightful to watch at cards. Everybody forgave him anything.’ [4] It is this flusteredness, or endearing transparency, that Furniss has captured in the drawing.

For less aggressive caricatures of Hare by Furniss see ‘All known portraits, In private character, Posthumous portraits, publ. 1925’ and ‘All known portraits, In stage character Paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints, 1895’ (various roles). There are no drawings of him listed in Furniss’s register of drawings at the National Portrait Gallery. [5]

See NPG collection 4095(1–11).

Carol Blackett-Ord

Footnotesback to top

1) Hare joined the Garrick Club in 1868 and Furniss in 1885.
2) Furniss 1925, p.108.
3) Furniss 1925, p.109 (emphasis added).
4) Bancroft 1939, p.97.
5) NPG Furniss MS116. It covers the period from 1885 to 1894 in detail.

Physical descriptionback to top

Whole-length standing to left, eyes swivelled to right, white-haired, wearing pince-nez and high wing collar, fingertips resting on card table.

Conservationback to top

Conserved, 1980.

Provenanceback to top

Blenheim Galleries, London, from whom purchased February 1959.

Reproductionsback to top

Furniss [1915–16], pl.29.

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View all known portraits for Sir John Hare