This portrait depicts William Stratton, who was the headkeeper to Sir John Cope, 11th Baronet of Hanwell. He is shown in working attire, gun under arm, accompanied by a gun dog. His fixed, yet amiable expression, looks directly out at us, exuding a confident and assured manner.
Stratton is shown standing by the steps of Bramshill Park, the house and estate that Sir John Cope, sixth Baronet had purchased in 1699. This earlier ancestor had served in four successive Parliaments during the reign of Queen Anne and in that of King George II, as an MP for Hampshire.
For a brief time during the mid-20th-century this portrait was owned by publisher and printer Walter Hutchinson. Hutchinson formed a substantial collection of sporting paintings and, in 1949, founded the National Gallery of British Sports and Pastimes. The gallery was located at Derby House (renamed Hutchinson House) in Stratford Place, off Oxford Street. Hutchinson was somewhat presumptuous in calling it a ‘National Gallery’ for it was never presented to the nation and, following his death (a year after the gallery had opened) the collection was dispersed. The Gallery also included a portrait of 'Sir John Cope with his Hounds at Bramshill House' by Edmund Havell.
Edmund Havell junior, genre and portrait painter, came from an artistic family: his father, Edmund Havell senior, had been a landscape painter, as was his uncle, William Havell. Edmund Havell junior was born in Reading, and lived there and in London. He exhibited work in London at the Royal Academy, British Institution and the Royal Society of British Artists from 1835 to 1895. He also produced lithographs, mainly of portraits. He is known to have visited the United States and exhibited work in Philadelphia. One of his most famous portrait commissions was of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, which today is in the collection of the Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University, Waco, Texas.
William Stratton (died 1869), Head Keeper to Sir John Cope of Bramshill Park, Hampshire
Oil on canvas
height: 176.50 cm, width: 147.00 cm
Purchased September 1952
Reportedly signed: 'E. Havell Jun Aet 21'; dated: '1840'
Collection of Sir John Cope of Bramshill Park, Hampshire; probably by descent to barrister and politician Arthur Ronald Nall Nall-Cain, 2nd Baron Brocket (1904-1967); Hutchinson House Collection [collection of publisher and printer Walter Hutchinson (1887-1950)]; by whose executors sold through Christie's, London, on 14 December 1951 (Lot 96), for £52.10.0; from which sale purchased by Agnew’s Gallery, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in September 1952; destroyed or looted in Tripoli, Libya, on 30 April or 1 May 2011
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