Credit: © The Royal Society
    Image number: RS.9247
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    Portrait of James Holman

    James Holman (1786 - 1857, British) , Naval officer
    George Chinnery (1774 - 1852, British) , painter
    Object type
    Archive reference number
    height (framed canvas): 295mm
    width (framed canvas): 258mm
    This warmly toned portrait shows the sitter at half-length, seated on a high-backed wooden chair. Holman is painted half face, looking to the viewer’s right, left arm around the chair back. The subject is bearded, wearing a black jacket, white waistcoat and shirt with black tie and grey trousers. In his right hand is a round-topped cane, light in colour, possibly ivory. The background is filled with crimson drapery, with mountains or hills and a sunset directly behind Holman’s right shoulder. A seal chain or decoration is visible at his waistband.

    James Holman was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1826.
    Lieut. J. Holman’
    Object history
    The Royal Society Librarian’s annotated copy of C.R.Weld’s Descriptive catalogue… (1860) quotes from the original donation letter: “Mr Andrew Holman writing from 10 John Street, America Square, March 11 1858, to make an offer of the picture according to the donor’s will, states, it ‘was an accurate likeness when it was painted, now about thirty years since.’ “ [Descriptive catalogue of the portraits in the possession of the Royal Society by Charles Richard Weld (London, Taylor and Francis, 1860) p.38. Annotated copy.]

    The Society’s Council Minutes give: ‘Read a letter from Andrew Holman, Esq., Executor of the late Lieutenant James Holman F.R.S., intimating that gentleman’s bequest of his Portrait to the Society.’ [Royal Society Minutes of Council, Printed, vol.2 1846-58, meeting 25 March 1858, p.429.]

    James Holman visited Macau and Canton (Guangzhou, China) during the period 18 September-20 December 1830 [recounted in his A voyage round the world…from 1827 to 1832 (1835)]. George Chinnery was based in Macao at this period, but visited and worked in Canton and the surrounding province, and the work must have been painted there.
    Associated place
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