Sir Francis Grant

(18 January 1803 - 5 October 1878)


Fourth son of Francis Grant of Kilgraston, Perthshire, was born at Edinburgh in 1803. He was educated for the bar, but at the age of twenty-four he began at Edinburgh systematically to study the practice of art. On completing a course of instruction he removed to London, and as early as 1843 exhibited at the Royal Academy.

At the beginning of his career he utilized his sporting experiences by painting groups of huntsmen, horses and hounds, such as the "Meet of H.M. Staghounds" and the "Melton Hunt"; but his position in society gradually made him a fashionable portrait-painter.

In drapery he had the taste of a connoisseur, and rendered the minutest details of costume with felicitous accuracy. In female portraiture he achieved considerable success, although rather in depicting the high-born graces and external characteristics than the true personality. Among his portraits of this class may be mentioned Lady Glenlyon, the marchioness of Waterford, Lady Rodney and Mrs Beauclerk.




In his portraits of generals and sportsmen he proved himself more equal to his subjects than in those of statesmen and men of letters. He painted many of the principal celebrities of the time, including Scott, Macaulay, Lockhart, Disraeli, Hardinge, Gough, Derby, Palmerston and Russell, his brother Sir J. Hope Grant and his friend Sir Edwin Landseer.

From the first his career was rapidly prosperous. In 1842, he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, and in 1851, an Academician; and in 1866, he was chosen to succeed Sir C. Eastlake in the post of president, for which his chief recommendations were his social distinction, tact, urbanity and friendly and liberal considerations of his brother artists. Shortly after his election as president he was knighted, and in 1870, the degree of D.C.L. was conferred upon him by the university of Oxford.




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Queen Victoria In Ceremonial Robes Coronation Portrait Queen Victoria, Princess Royal, Prince of Wales 1842 Queen Victoria Riding Out 1838-39 1845 *1840 (See below) Study
*Portrait of Queen Victoria on horseback, with the Duke of Wellington and the Household Brigade in the background, 1840



Sir Francis Grant, R. A. (Brit.) Born in Scotland (1804-1878). Studied for the bar, but relinquished that profession to become an artist about 1828, receiving no regular artistic education. He first exhibited, in 1834, "The Breakfast at Melton," and for some years devoted himself to pictures of a sporting character, which contained portraits of famous huntsmen and horses, and were very popular in England, being frequently engraved. Among these were, "Sir R. Sutton's Hounds," "The Mee't of the Queen's Stag-Hounds," "The Melton Hunt" (which belonged to the Duke of Wellington), "The Ascot Hunt". His equestrian portrait of the Queen, painted in 1841, has been engraved, as have many of his portraits of distinguished Britons. In 1841, he was elected Associate of the Royal Academy, in 1851, Academician, and President of the Academy in 1866, a position which he held at the time of his death. He succeeded Sir Charles Eastlake, and was knighted by the Queen upon his election. He was the accepted portrait-painter of the upper circles of England, and among his sitters at different times have been
Sir Colin Campbell in 1861,
Earl of Elgin and Gen. Sir Hope Grant, his brother, in 1862,
Disraeli in 1863,
the Duke and Duchess of Beaufort in 1864,
Duchess of Sutherland and Lord Stanley in 1867,
Duke of Cambridge in 1868,
Duke of Roxburgh in 1873,
Earl of Fife and Duke of Rutland in 1872,
Duke of Buckingham in 1873,
Palmerston in 1874, besides such exalted commoners as Landseer, Lockhart, and Macaulay. In addition to his portraits he sent to the Royal Academy:
in 1874, "Knitting the Stocking" and "On Board the Harlequin";
in 1876, "Winter'' and "Summer";
in 1877, "Suspicion";
in 1878, "Stag among Rocks " and "A Royal Group in the Highland Deer Forest."

"This eminent artist [Grant], remarkable, for his excellence in painting horses, and the style of his portraits in general, the striking resemblances given in them, and the grand simplicity of character with which they are invested, is of ancient Scottish family. One of the first portraits he painted professionally was the well-known equestrian one of Count D'Orsay. -- Memoirs of the Countess of Blessinglon.

Connoisseurs approved of his sketches both in pencil and oil, but not without the sort of criticisms made on these occasions; that they were admirable for an amateur, but it could not be expected that he should submit to the drudgery absolutely necessary for a profession, and all that species of criticism which gives way before natural genius and energy of character. In the mean time Frank saw the necessity of doing something better to keep himself independent, having, I think, too much spirit to become a Jock, the laird's brither, drinking out the last glass of the bottle, riding the horses which the laird wishes to sell, and drawing sketches to amuse the lady and children. He was above all this, and honorably resolved to cultivate his taste for painting, and become a professional artist. I am no judge of painting, but I am conscious that Francis Grant possesses with much cleverness a sense of beauty derived from the best source, that is, the observation of the really good society, while in many modern artists the want in that species of feeling is so great as to be revolting." -- Scott's Diary, March 26, 1S31, in Lockhart's Life of Scott.

Artists of the Nineteenth Century & their Works, Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton, 1879.



Francis Grant, portrait painter, was bom in 1804 (1803?), and is a younger son or Francis Grant, the laird of Eilgaston, m Perthshire, and the brother of Lieut-General Sir J. Hope Grant, G.C.B. He was originally intended for the bar, but disliking that profession, took to painting at the age of twenly-four. He was fond of the sports of the field, and, moreover, had a respectable patrimony whicli he got rid of in the usual conrse of an independent life. The first subjects of his pencil were of a character congenial to his tastes, and very popular amongst the class of society with whom he associated, as the:
"The Brealuast at Melton", exhibited in 1834;
"Sir B. Sutton's Hounds", and "The Meet of the Queen's Stag Hounds," in 1837, containing forty-six portraits of celebrated sportsmen, painted for the Earl of Chesterfield, and afterwards engraved;
"The Melton Hunt", (containing thirty-six portraits) in 1839, purchased by the Duke of Wellington, and since engraved;
"The Shooting Party at Banton Abbey",
"The Ascot Hunt", (exhibited at Paris in 1856). In 1841, he exhibited "An Equestrian Portrait of her Majesty attended by Lord Melbourne and the Lords in Waiting", which had also been engraved. He now took to portrait painting as a profession, and was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy, the higher honour of R. A. following in 1851. As a fashionable portrait painter, his social position, improved by his marriage with a niece of the Duke of Butland, affords him peculiar advantages, both in respect to the channels of patronage thus opened to him, and the opportunities for observing the manners and dress of the elite of society, which he faithfully transfixes to canvas. Among his principal portraits may be mentioned Lord Clyde, (Sir Colin Campbell), painted for the Governor-General of India, and exhibited in 1861, the Marchioness of Waterford, Lady Rodney, Disraeli, Lockhart, Sir Edwin Landseer, the Earl of Derby, Lord John Russell, Lord Palmerstone, and Lord Macaulay. In February, 1866, he was elected President of the Royal Academy, and in March of the same year received the honour of knighthood.

Bryan's Dictionary of Painters, Suppl., 1866





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