Sir Francis Grant, P.R.A.

Sir Francis Grant was a Scottish portrait artist born in 1803. He was a wealthy middle son of a Scottish Lord, born in Perthshire, Scotland. His father died in 1818 and Sir Francis inherited a small fortune with which he used to set out to begin his career. Sir Francis first tried his hand at becoming a lawyer but soon quit in favour of painting. He taught himself to paint and soon became very adept at doing portrait work. Other than a brief period of study with fellow painter Alexander Nasmyth, Sir Francis Grant was entirely self taught, although he was influenced by earlier painters such as Velasquez.

It wasn't until 1834 that Sir Francis Grant's artistic talent began to be appreciated by the public. His first exhibition was at the Royal Academy, where he displayed a number of paintings of gentleman's sporting events such as polo and fox hunting, and gained particular fame for his painting, Melton Breakfast. His next famous picture was a commission from the Earl of Chesterfield which came in 1837 and it was called The Meeting of His Majesty's Staghounds on Ascot Heath. This increased Sir Francis' reputation considerably and his next commission came from war hero and English Prime Minister Arthur Wellesley, first duke of Wellington, who purchased The Melton Hunt in 1839. More commissions continued to come in for Sir Francis from the upper aristocracy such as Sir Richard Sutton, The Earl of Lichfield and Lord Melbourne and he was able to live comfortably off of the profits from his art.

Sir Francis Grant's most famous and important commission came in 1840, when he was asked to paint a portrait of Queen Victoria, reigning monarch of the British Empire and the most powerful woman in the world. This catapulted Grant into instant fame and commissions began pouring in from noble men and women who wished to have their portraits painted by the fashionable Sir Francis. His portraits appeared in Britain's Royal Academy and he was elected an associate of the Academy. By the 1840's he was considered the foremost portrait painter of his time.

In 1850 Sir Francis Grant was elected an academician at the Royal Academy and soon afterwards he rose to the position of Academy President. He was so prominent at this point that he was knighted and officially became Sir Francis Grant.

The next two decades were a very busy and prosperous time for Sir Francis. It has been estimated by historians that he painted over two hundred and fifty portraits between the early 1840's and 1870. He painted many more portraits of Queen Victoria and other members of the British Royal Family including the Queen's consort, her son, the Prince of Wales, the famous Benjamin Disraeli, and dozens of earls, dukes, knights and counts. Grant was the most sought after portrait artist for the upper class in the entire Victorian era.

As he began to age Sir Francis Grant's health became steadily worse until he was killed by a heart attack in 1878.

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