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Commodore Sir William James, 1722-83

BHC2801
Oil paintings

Object connections:

Collection Oil paintings, Fine art, Maritime Art Greenwich
ExhibitionsTraders: The East India Company and Asia
User collections Traders Remixed - Power by YouthAdvisoryGroup
Textiles: supplying cloth to the world by NMMExhibitions
Gallery locationTraders Gallery (Floor plans)
PeopleDepiction: James, William

Object details:

Object ID BHC2801
Description A three-quarter-length portrait to left in the full-dress uniform of Commodore of the Bombay Marine. Wearing a white wig, he leans on an anchor fluke and holds a drawing of a fort in his right hand. In 1747 James joined the service of the East India Company and became Commodore of its marine forces four years later. He was chiefly concerned with the powerful pirate, Angria, whose stronghold of Severndroog he captured in 1755 and then assisted Watson and Clive in the capture of Geriah in the following year. The drawing that he holds in his hand is thought to be the fortress of Severndroog. He came home in 1759 and later became Chairman of the Directors of the East India Company. He was created a baronet in 1778. This is a documented studio replica, painted for the sitter's widow in 1784 from the original at Trinity House. The Trinity House version was begun in 1780 and completed in 1782 but was destroyed during the Second World War. In 1740 Reynolds was apprenticed to the portrait painter Thomas Hudson (1701-90) and after early work in his native Devon travelled to Italy in 1749. In 1753 he set up in London and rapidly began to make a name as portrait painter, profoundly influenced by his time in Italy. He became the first President of the Royal Academy in 1768 and was knighted in 1769. He was the most influential figure of the century in elevating British painting and portraiture. Reynolds borrowed poses from the old masters and by 1759 he had created social portraits in a new style that were deemed fresh and modern, and yet dignified the status of the sitter.
Date made 1784

Artist/Maker Reynolds, Joshua
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Materials oil on canvas
Measurements Painting: 1270 mm x 1015 mm; Frame: 1527 mm x 1273 mm x 105 mm
Parts
  • Commodore Sir William James, 1722-83 (BHC2801)
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