Sir Francis Grant - Encyclopedia




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GRANT, SIR FRANCIS (1803-1878), English portrait-painter, 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 highborn 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 consideration 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. He died on the 5th of October 1878.

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