This half-length portrait by Lieron Mayer shows Sir Richard Wood at the age of seventy-one. He wears a black suit and a white shirt topped with a bow-tie. His face is lit by artificial light which contours his features, adding to the pensive mood of this painting.
Sir Richard Wood is mostly remembered for his missions during the age of global imperial rivalry, playing a decisive role in securing British and Ottoman imperial interests in the region. He was the son of a dragoman in the British service and grew up partly in Istanbul and in Exeter. He also became a dragoman himself and was fluent in Turkish, Greek, French and Italian. His versatile skills and knowledge got him dispatched to Syria on a number of occasions. These missions were not without obstacles: he caught smallpox in Aleppo, typhoid in Mosul, heat-stroke on the Tigris, a lance wound in the knee in Tripoli and a head injury in Kurdistan. Despite all these misfortunes, Wood emerged as one of the most powerful men in Syria and thanks to his mission, Britain gained ‘a greater amount of influence… than any other foreign power’. He also acted as consul to Damascus between 1842 and 1845 and in 1855 he took up the post of consul in Tunis.
Sir Richard Wood (1806-1900) Consul-General to Tunisia 1855-79
Oil on canvas
height: 75.50 cm, width: 60.50 cm
Presented by the Sitter's Granddaughters, 1957
br: LM / 1877; Frame bears label with inscription: Sir Richard Wood, CCMG / B1806 - D1900 . H.M. Agent and Consul General 1855-79 / The first to live in this house / painted by "L.M." in 1877 / Presented by his granddaughters, 1957.
Presented by sitter's grand-daughters Cecile Lascelles and Daisy Raffo, 1957.
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