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Art in Scotland
Sir Francis Grant


SIR FRANCIS GRANT, P.R.A., R.S.A.
Born, 1803; died, 5th October 1878.

This eminent and fashionable portrait-painter was the fourth son of Francis Grant, laird of Kilgraston in Perthshire, and next younger brother of Lieutenant-General Sir James Hope Grant, who attained his military distinction chiefly by his services in India. He was originally educated for the Bar; but a passionate love for art induced him to follow it as a profession, and he began seriously to study about the age of twenty-four. Previous to this he had received some instruction in Edinburgh from Alexander Nasmyth, after which he began to make copies from works by some of the old masters, notably those of Velasquez. A notice in Sir Walter Scott's Diary mentions him as dividing his time between fox-hunting and other similar sports, and painting; and also of having formed a small collection of pictures. He soon, however, found that the fortune of a younger son would rapidly become exhausted in such expensive amusements; and Scott mentions further, that "he used to avow his intention to spend his patrimony, about £xo,000, and again make his fortune by law." He seems soon to have fulfilled the first part of his intention, but found the second not so easy, more especially as his talent did not lie in the direction of the law. After having attained some proficiency in art, he went to London, where he devoted himself to the profession with such energy, that he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1834 the Breakfast at Melton, containing twelve portrait figures, and an equestrian portrait of Captain Vandeleur of the Inniskilling Dragoons. While practising in London, he retained an establishment at Melton Mowbray, and at this time began to take a position as a society painter, taking up to some extent the place in art vacated by Lawrence, who died in 1830. In 1837, by which time he had acquired a leading position as a London portrait-painter, he exhibited Sir R. Hutton's Hounds, and the Meet of the Queen's Staghounds; followed in 1839 by the Melton Hunt, containing thirty-six portraits—and a Shooting-party at Ranton Abbey; and in 1841, by an equestrian portrait of her Majesty attended by Lord Melbourne and others. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy in the following year, when he exhibited his portrait of Lady Glenlyon, and in 1843 his portrait of the Queen, seated, wearing a diadem, and robed in white silk. Among his other numerous works were the Muckle Hart, a noble specimen of a stag and his doe lying behind some grey rocks; and a portrait of the Earl of Milltown. He is by no means well represented in the Scottish National Gallery by a Jew Rabbi ; and a small full-length of Sir Walter Scott formerly in possession of the old Ruthven family at Winton Castle, is esteemed an excellent likeness. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1851, and succeeded Sir Charles Eastlake as president in 1866, when, in accordance with custom, he received the additional honour of knighthood. His wife was niece to the Duke of Rutland, in consequence of which he had the entrée to a large aristocratic circle, the ladies of which he painted with great success, as his strength lay chiefly in that branch of portraiture. He exhibited portraits of his wife, Lady Beauclerk, Lady Rodney, and Lord John Russell in the Paris exhibition of 1855, one of which M. Gautier characterised as "une excellente chose," and justly speaks of his work as "plus apprcié des gens du monde que des artistes." 1 He joined the Scottish Academy from the Royal Institution in 1830, and died at Melton Mowbray, where the last few years of his life were passed in feeble health, on the 5th October 1878, at the age of seventy-five.

Although occupying a prominent position in London, he contributed tolerably regularly to the Scottish Academy's exhibitions. Among his exhibits there may be mentioned his portrait of Lieutenant-General Sir Hope Grant, painted in 1853, as Colonel of the 9th Lancers (t86o); the Duke of Buccleuch as Captain-General of the Royal Company of Archers, Mrs and Miss Hodgson (1862); and Miss Adelaide Kemble in the character of Semirarnide (1867). His portrait of Torn Hills was sold at Christie's in 1873 for 204 guineas.


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