Sir Clements Robert Markham
17 of 10995 portraits by Elliott & Fry
- Extended catalogue entry
Sir Clements Robert Markham
by Elliott & Fry
Sepia-toned bromide print, 1904-1905
4 in. x 5 3/4 in. (100 mm x 146 mm)
Inscriptionback to top
On mount signed in ink lower right below image, over Elliott & Fry credit: ‘ClementsRMarkham’.
On reverse of mount inscr. in ink: ‘Sir Clements Markham / Arctic Explorer’;
with photographer’s pre-printed credit: ‘Elliott & Fry / 55 Baker Str., W. / No. ..’
This portraitback to top
The photograph, which was acquired without documentation, may be dated by the statuette on the table. This ‘beautifully wrought silver centrepiece’, depicting an Antarctic explorer hauling a sledge, was commissioned and presented to Sir Clements Markham by Robert Falcon Scott and the men of the Discovery at a private gathering prior to the public reception for the British National Antarctic Expedition (1901–4), on 7 November 1904 at the Royal Albert Hall, London. According to his biographer, Markham was ‘quite taken aback by this wholly unexpected tribute of appreciation … it was a gift that in after-years he always valued as one of his most precious possessions.’ The statuette appears in another late portrait (see ‘All known portraits, Paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints, 1913’).
Scott’s account of the Antarctic expedition, The Voyage of the Discovery, was published in 1905, and it was this Elliott & Fry portrait that was chosen to represent Markham, prime mover and ‘Managing Owner’ of the enterprise. This suggests that Markham sat for Elliott & Fry sometime between the end of 1904 and the following autumn, when the book was published. He had posed for the photographic studio at least once before, in the 1870s (see ‘All known portraits, Photographs, c.1875’).
On 22 May 1905, after twelve years in the post, Markham resigned the presidency of the Royal Geographical Society, stepping down to become its vice-president. Appropriately, NPG P491 was not taken in Elliot & Fry’s Baker Street studio or a professional setting, but in a private one; and this impression is reinforced by the choice of book Markham holds, a copy of the fashionable poem ‘Marpessa’ by Stephen Phillips. The image of Markham with head resting on one hand, seated by the model of a sledge-pulling explorer, became further known through a print loosely based on this photograph.
NPG P491, which retains its original early twentieth-century mount, was purchased at Moore’s Auction Rooms, 16 May 1991 (11), for £66. It had previously belonged to Warner Dailey, an American dealer living in London. It remains the only portrait of Markham in the NPG Primary Collection.
Footnotesback to top
1) Markham 1917, pp.337–8. The statuette was sold at Sotheby’s, 6–7 Dec. 1984 (501), and is now in the collection of the National Maritime M., London, PLT0078.
2) Scott 1905. The photograph of Markham is in vol.1, facing p.27. See Crane 2005, p.321, for Scott’s discussion with the publisher re. the illustrations.
3) First published in S. Phillips, Poems, London, 1897, and as a separate publication in 1901.
4) Lithograph, 320 x 265mm, by unidentified printmaker after Elliott & Fry (detail); impressions colls RGS, London, 196/021361; and priv. coll.
5) Forgotten Treasures from Country House Attics, Thomas Moore Auctions Ltd, 217–19 High Road, Greenwich. See preview of sale (‘an eclectic collection by the “gentry’s junkman”’), Country Life, 9 May 1991, pp.82–3.
Physical descriptionback to top
Almost three-quarter-length to left, seated, head turned to viewer and resting on right hand, book in left hand, silver statuette on table at left.
Provenanceback to top
Warner Dailey; purchased from his sale, Thomas Moore Auctions Ltd, 1991.
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