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Sir Charles James Napier

Sir Charles James Napier, by Smart,  -NPG 3964 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Sir Charles James Napier

attributed to Smart
13 7/8 in. x 11 3/8 in. (353 mm x 289 mm)
NPG 3964

This portraitback to top

Holland, an assistant at the NPG, sketched this picture on a loose piece of paper, and wrote underneath: 'by Smart/who exaggerated arm-size/Sir Charles Napier at Oaklands.' The second phrase is a later addition. Holland inserted the piece of paper into his notebook beside a drawing of another portrait of Napier by Smart (full-length, seated in his tent), which he had seen at the shop of a dealer, Pforzer, 101 London Wall, in November 1889. What appears to be the same portrait by Smart, or possibly another version, was offered to the NPG in the same month by the daughter of Colonel Rathbone, for whom it had been painted. Two versions of the full-length type are in the collections of A. R. Catherall, and Mrs Kennedy, a descendant of the sitter. It is not clear whether Holland saw the NPG portrait at Pforzer's as well, as he gives no location on the separate piece of paper (he might have seen and drawn the NPG portrait elsewhere, and put it beside the other subsequently for the sake of comparison). Holland's inscription is also ambiguous; it might mean that the portrait was painted by Smart at Oak-lands, the Napier home, or that Holland had seen the portrait there. The significant gap between 'Napier' and 'at Oaklands' would allow for either interpretation. Holland's note adds weight, however, to the attribution of the portrait to Smart, and is therefore of some importance. There is a lithograph by E. Morton, published Colnaghi, after a third portrait by Smart (example in British Museum), showing Napier standing, and holding a telescope; this was said to be after S. P. Smart (fl. 1774-87), but this is clearly impossible on date. While several 19th century Smarts are recorded, it is not clear which if any of them were responsible for the portraits of Napier.

Referenceback to top

Holland
L. G. Holland, 'Notebooks' (NPG archives), III, 28.

NPG Annual Report, 1955-6, p 11.

Physical descriptionback to top

Healthy complexion, blue eyes, brown hair with streaks of grey. White shirt and trousers, dark blue uniform with brass buttons, gold lanyard, and gold aiguillette, holding a crimson-bound book. Brown furniture, green-topped desk with white papers and a quill pen.

Provenanceback to top

Napier family or Pforzer; E. Kersley, purchased from him, 1955.


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.

View all known portraits for Sir Charles James Napier

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