Robert Home, Portrait Painter

(b. 1752, d. 1834)

Portrait Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

He was third, but eldest surviving, son of Robert Boyne Home, a surgeon, afterwards of Greenlaw Castle, Berwickshire, by his wife Mary, eldest daughter of Alexander Hutchinson, colonel in Bragg's regiment of foot. He was born at Hull on 6th August, 1752. While still a boy he made a voyage to Newfoundland on board a whaler. Having a talent for drawing and modelling he used to assist his brother-in-law, Dr. John Hunter, with his anatomical diagrams; and becoming acquainted with Angelica Kauffmann, he received instruction from her. In 1770 he sent a Portrait of a Lady to the Royal Academy Exhibition. He was then living at 27 Suffolk Street, Charing Cross. He also exhibited again in the following year.

Encouraged in his aspirations by Angelica Kauffmann, he prevailed upon his father to send him to Italy to study. He was in Rome from 1773 to 1778, when he returned to London and sought to establish himself there as a portrait painter. Finding, however, that his success in a field already so fully occupied would be slow he, in 1779, went to Dublin with introductions to many influential persons, and under the patronage of Lord Chancellor Lifford and Dr. Clements, Vice-Provost of Trinity College, he quickly acquired a large and fashionable practice, and had as many sitters as he could paint. In 1780 he sent to the Artists' Exhibition in Dublin twenty-two pictures, mostly portraits, but none of them named. Amongst them was a whole-length painted in England in 1778, a portrait of a nobleman painted in Rome, in 1775, an allegorical picture painted in England in 1778, and a "Circe." He was then living at 107 Capel Street.

In 1782 he was commissioned by Trinity College to paint a series of eight portraits for the new theatre there; and on 5th July, 1783, it was agreed to give him thirty-five guineas for each of the following pictures: "Queen Elizabeth," "Dr. Baldwin," "Bishop Berkeley," "Dean Swift," "Mr. Molyneux," "Archbishop King," "Archbishop Ussher" and "Henry Grattan." The portrait of Grattan was done from life; the College books record that he was asked to sit for a full-length portrait in May, 1782. The other pictures were copies—that of Swift being taken from the portrait by Bindon at Howth Castle. The series was completed in 1798, and hung in the Examination Hall where, with the exception of the Grattan portrait, they still are. The Grattan picture was taken down some years later and replaced by Hoppner's portrait of Edmund Burke, and appears to have been destroyed. Home had for some time a monopoly of the best practice in Dublin, but he grew careless in his work, his practice lessened, and finally, on the arrival of Gilbert Stuart, he found his studio deserted. He therefore left Dublin and returned to London in 1789. In 1790 he went to India. He landed at Madras, and first brought himself into notice by a portrait of Lord Cornwallis.

He accompanied the army during the Mysore war and made a series of twenty-nine sketches of the country, which were engraved and published in London in 1794. The original drawings are in the possession of his descendants. He also painted a picture of "The Reception of the Mysore Princes as hostages by Lord Cornwalis"; and one of "The Death of Colonel Moorhouse at the storming of Bangalore"; these two pictures he sent home to the R.A. Exhibition in 1797. In Madras he painted several pictures for the Town Hall and other public buildings. In 1795 he went to Calcutta, where he obtained as much employment as he could undertake, painting the portraits of most of the principal residents. In the rooms of the Asiatic Society, of which he became Secretary in 1802, are a number of pictures done by him; and amongst other works of his at this period were "Lord Lake and his Staff on their arrival at Futteghar"; "Lord Minto at the Capture of Java"; "Portrait of Sir George Hewitt," and one of "Sir Arthur Wellesley," painted for the Marquess Wellesley in 1804.

In 1814 Home left Calcutta to take up an appointment at the Court of Oude at Lucknow, as Historical and Portrait Painter to the Nawab, Asafud Daula. With the Nawab he became a favourite and soon had abundant work, not only in painting pictures but in designing and superintending the making of various state carriages, howdahs, boats, etc., as well as the arrangement of the setting of the state jewels. Besides several large pictures of Durbars and court ceremonials, he painted for the Nawab a portrait of the Marquess of Hastings. Bishop Heber, who visited Lucknow in 1824, writes: "I sat for my portrait to Mr. Home four times. He has made several portraits of the King, redolent with youth and radiant with diamonds, and a portrait of Sir E. Paget. He is a quiet, gentlemanly old man, brother of the celebrated surgeon in London, and came out to practice as a portrait painter in Madras during Lord Cornwallis' first administration. His son is a captain in the Company's service, but is now attached to the King of Oude as equerry and European A.D.C. Mr. Home would have been a distinguished painter had he remained in Europe, for he has a great deal of taste and his drawing is very good and rapid; but it has been of course a great disadvantage to him to have only his own works to study, and he probably finds it necessary to paint in glowing colours to satisfy his royal master." After Bishop Heber's death Home sent his widow a copy of her husband's portrait, and another copy he sent to Bishop's College, Calcutta.

In 1825, being then at an advanced age and having amassed a considerable fortune, Home resigned his appointment and went to Cawnpore where he spent the remainder of his days. He kept up a handsome establishment, and was wont to exercise the most lavish hospitality, until the loss of his daughter Anne, Mrs. Walker, in 1829, increasing infirmities rendered him averse to society. He died at Cawnpore at the age of 82 on 12th September, 1834. His last work was a copy of a print of "Silence," by Carracci.

Home had only the free use of one arm. As the result of a severe attack of measles when a young man the elbow joint of his left arm became affected, and his brother-in-law, Dr. John Hunter, in order to avoid amputation, set it in a bent position across the chest, when it ossified and remained fixed. Home used to say that this was of great service to him, as it enabled him to hold his palette for hours in the same position without fatigue.

Home married in Dublin on the 8th September, 1783, Susanna, eldest daughter of Solomon Delane, celebrated for her beauty. She died in London in 1790. He married, secondly, in 1796, in India, Anna Alicia Patterson, who died at Lucknow in 1817. By his first wife he had five sons—of whom Robert, John and Richard entered the military service and attained the rank of General—and one daughter.

Home's pictures are well and carefully painted, his colouring good. A manuscript poem in laudation of "Home's Grand Portraits" belongs to a member of the Home family. It consists of 104 lines and is entitled "Venus' Mistake." It refers to several of his portraits as follows: "Circe," "The Wanton Howard," "Sprightly Fanny " (i.e., Miss Fanny Irvine, of Castle Irvine, Co. Fermanagh); "The gentle, mild Louisa" (daughter of James Stewart, of Killymoon, Co. Tyrone); "The Lovely Sally" and "Bright Penelope" (i.e., Sally and Penelope Ellis, of Enniskillen); and "Eliza Gorges" (niece of Hamilton Gorges, M.P.).

A portrait of R. Home, painted by his pupil, R. Gregory, belongs to the Asiatic Society at Calcutta.

The following is a list of his principal works:

Astarte and Zadig. Painted in Dublin and sent to the R.A. in 1781; purchased by Colonel Caffe; engraved by Francis Haward, R.A., and in mezzotint by J. R. Smith in 1784.

Lt.-Col. John Baillie, Director of the East India Company, 1823. Christie's, 15th April, 1912.

Dr. Baldwin, Provost of Trinity College. A copy painted in Dublin. [Examination Hall, T.C.D.

Sir George H. Barlow, k.c.b., Governor-General of Bengal, [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

Mrs. Bateson. [Lord Deramore.]

James Beattie, the poet. Said to be one of his earliest works. [Mrs. Chandler, grand-daughter of the artist.]

Bishop Berkeley. A copy, painted in Dublin. [ Examination Hall, T.C.D.]

Hugh Boyd. Engraved in stipple by W. Ridiey for "European Magazine," 1800; also by T. Brown.

Hugh Boyd. Engraved by C. Watson for Almon's "Letters of Junius," 1806.

Hugh Boyd. A drawing; engraved by W. Evans, 1799.

Rev. William Carey attended by his Pundit. Engraved by W. H. Worthington, and published by the Baptist Missionary Society, 1813; also by J. Jenkins for the "Christian Keepsake," 1836.

Sir Robert Chambers. Painted in Calcutta. [University College, Oxford.] Engraved by G. Dawe.

Sir Robert Chambers. [Arthur S. Flower.]

Sir Eyre Coote. Painted in 1795 for Madras, and placed in the Exchange.

Sir Eyre Coote. Painted in 1795. The original perished, but a copy by T. Hickey is in the Banqueting Hall, Government House, Madras.

Charles, Marquess Cornwallis, Governor General of Bengal. Painted at Madras. [Government House, Madras.]

Charles, Marquess Cornwallis. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

Waddell Cunningham, a prominent Belfast merchant. Engraved in mezzotint by W. Ward.

Sir William Cusack-Smith, 2nd Bart., Baron of the Exchequer; when a young man. Painted in 1785. [Sir Berry Cusack-Smith, K.C.M.G., Redlands, Maidenhead.]

"The Two Daniels." ? Thomas and William Daniell, artists. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.] Colonel James Grant Duff, 1st Bombay n.i. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

Rev. Dr. Dunne, Presbyterian preacher. Painted in Dublin. Belonged to J. Dunne, K.C., Sackville Street.

Queen Elizabeth. A copy, painted in Dublin. [Examination Hall, T.C.D.]

Miss Sally Ellis, of Enniskillen. Painted in Dublin.

Miss Penelope Ellis, of Enniskillen. Painted in Dublin.

Dr. John Fleming. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

Florinda Gardiner, wife of Thomas Burgh. [Lt.-Col. De Burgh, Oldtown, Co. Kildare.] Signed R.H. (in monogram) and dated 1783.

Miss Eliza Gorges. Painted in Dublin.

Henry Grattan. Painted from life in Dublin for Trinity College in 1782. On 25th May, 1782, Grattan was requested to sit for his picture at full length, to be placed in the theatre. It was one of the eight portraits painted by Home for the College, and was hung in the theatre, or Examination Hall. When the portrait of Edmund Burke, by Hoppner, was painted, it was hung in the Hall in the place of Grattan. In T. C. Curwen's "Observations on the state of Ireland, etc," 1818, Vol. II, pp. 114-115, it is stated that "Burke's portrait occupies the place formerly allotted to Grattan. The whole transaction relative to the destruction of the latter gentleman's picture has fixed a stain on the University that in our memory cannot be effaced." From this it appears that the picture was destroyed. It is certainly no longer hung in the College.

Dr. James Hare. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.] Identification not quite certain.

Francis, Marquess of Hastings. Painted for the Nawab of Oude.

Bishop Heber. Painted at Lucknow in 1824. The artist made a copy for Bishop's College, Calcutta, and another for Bishop Heber's widow.

Sir George Hewitt. Painted in Calcutta.

Elizabeth Home, the artist's sister. [Mrs. Chandler.]

Mrs. John Hunter. [Mrs. Chandler.]

Dr. Hutchinson reading by candlelight. Painted in Dublin. Mentioned and praised by J. D. Herbert in his "Irish Varieties."

John Hyde, Judge of the Supreme Court, Calcutta. Engraved by W. Sharpe, 1814, and published by R. Home in Calcutta and W. Sharp in London.

Miss Fanny Irvine. Painted in Dublin. [William Darcy Irvine, Castle Irvine, Co. Fermanagh.]

Sir William Jones, Judge of the Supreme Court, Bengal. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

Major-General William Jones. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.] Identification not quite certain.

Thomas Alexander, 6th Earl of Kellie. Painted in London; engraved in 1782 by R. Blyth.

William King, Archbp. of Dublin. A copy, painted in Dublin. [Examination Hall, T.C.D.]

Dr. John Laird. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

Lord Lake and his Staff on their arrival at Futteghar. Painted in Calcutta.

Rt. Hon. Anthony Lambert. Engraved by A. Cardon, 1806.

Earl of Minto, Governor-General. Painted in Calcutta. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

William Molyneux. A copy, painted in Dublin. [Examination Hall, T.C.D.]

The Death of Colonel Moorhouse at the Storming of Bangalore. R.A., 1797. Engraved by E. Stalker, 1811, and published by George Goulding, Soho Square, the then owner of the picture.

Nusserat Jung, Nawab of Dacca. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

Vizier of Oude. Belonged to Lieut.-Col. Baillie, Resident at the Court of Oude; engraved in mezzotint by W. Say, 1817.

The King of Oude receiving Tribute. [Hampton Court.] A large picture, 8 ft. by 5 ft. 2 in. Presented to George IV in 1828 by the artist's brother, Sir Everard Home.

The King of Oude. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

Sir Edward Paget, G.C.B., Commander-in-Chief in India. Painted at Lucknow. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

John David Patterson. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

Jesse Ramsden, philosophical instrument maker, London. Engraved in mezzotint by John Jones, 1791.

Two Family Groups of the Rowley Family. Both signed and dated R. Home, 1782. [Lord Langford, Summerhill, Co. Meath.]

Rev. William Sclater, D.D.

Mrs. Brinsley Sheridan. After Reynolds. J. D. Herbert's sale, l837.

Louisa Stewart, daughter of James Stewart of Killymoon, M.P. Painted in Dublin.

Jonathan Swift, Dean of St. Patrick's. A copy from the picture by F. Bindon at Howth Castle. [Examination Hall, T.C.D.]

The Delivery of Tippoo Sahib's two sons as hostages to Lord Cornwallis. Painted at Madras. R.A., 1797.

Tippoo Sahib and his two sons, with an English officer. A large and well-painted picture. [Government House, Calcutta.]

Mrs. Elizabeth Fraser Tytler, née Colvin. Christie's, 12th July, 1912.

Archbishop Ussher. A copy, painted in Dublin. [Examination Hall, T.C.D.]

Sir Arthur Wellesley. Full length, painted in Calcutta. [Government House, Calcutta.] Engraved in mezzotint by C. Turner and published in Calcutta by R. Home in 1806.

Sir Arthur Wellesley. Full length, painted for Richard, Marquess Wellesley, about 1804. [Duke of Wellington.]

Sir Arthur Wellesley. Bust portrait. [National Portrait Gallery.]

Richard, Marquess Wellesley. Bust portrait. [National Portrait Gallery.]

Richard, Marquess Wellesley. Painted for the City of Calcutta.

Richard, Marquess Wellesley. [India Office.] Presented by Sir H. C. Montgomery in 1875.

Richard, Marquess Wellesley. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.] A replica of last; presented by Brigadier Home in 1834.

Horace Hayman Wilson. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

Miss Woolery, afterwards Mrs. Cottingham. [National Gallery of Ireland.] Signed R. H. (in monogram), 1787.

Theobald Wolfe, barrister. Painted in Dublin. [George Wolfe, Forenaughts, Co. Kildare.] Engraved by F. Bartolozzi.

Theobald Wolfe. A replica or copy of above, dated 1782. [N. Smyth, Zion Road, Rathgar.]

Circe. Exhibited in Dublin in 1780. Belonged to Mrs. Walcot who left it to Lord Kingston.

Ruins of Mahabalipuran. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.] Presented by the artist in 1808.

Foul Weather at Sea. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

The Ford, a View in Scotland. [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.]

A Pelican, [Asiatic Society, Calcutta.] Presented by the artist in 1810.

The Tribute Money. [Captain R. E. Home, R.E.]

The following engraved views from Home's drawings were published: "Select Views in Mysore, in the country of Tippoo Sultan"; a series of twenty-nine large plates by Fittler, Skelton and others, with four large maps and descriptive text, 4to, published in London in 1794; "Description of Seringapatam, the capital of Tippoo Sultaun"; six coloured aquatints, 17 by 23 inches, published in 1796.

Many of Home's sketches are in the possession of his descendants. Mrs. Home, widow of the artist's grandson, Colonel Robert Home, has a large volume of drawings and sketches made in Italy and India. Many are pencil studies for pictures painted in India and designs for carriages, boats, etc., for the King of Oude.

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