Sir Francis Grant

General Sir James Hope Grant, 1808 - 1875. Soldier (As Lieutenant-Colonel of the 9th Lancers) (1853)

About this artwork

Sir James Hope Grant started his military career with the 9th Lancers in 1826. He served as an officer in most of the major campaigns in China and India, and eventually advanced to the rank of Major-General. Grant famously claimed that one of his promotions was the result of his performance skills on the cello, as he entertained the General on the boring sea voyage to China. This full-length painting is one of several of him by his elder brother, the famous society portraitist Sir Francis Grant. It was painted when James Hope Grant was on sick leave in Britain for three years. The generalised exotic background with palm trees represents India, where Grant was serving at the time. The decorations on his chest include his Companion of the Order of the Bath and three campaign medals.

Sir Francis Grant

Sir Francis Grant

By the time he was 26 years old, Francis Grant had spent his father’s inheritance of £10,000 on fox hunting and collecting paintings, and was in desperate need of a career. He decided to become an artist, and, despite having no formal training, he made rapid progress by copying old masterpieces lent to him by friends and family. At the time, it was remarkable and somewhat scandalous for a member of a landed family to become a professional portrait painter. His background did, however, give Grant easy access to fashionable Victorian society and portrait commissions. Although still a great lover of hunting, Grant’s success was huge and his output prolific: between 1831 and his death in 1878, approximately 800 paintings are recorded.