John Singer Sargent

Colonel Ian Hamilton, CB, DSO


Not on display

John Singer Sargent 1856–1925
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1384 × 787 mm
frame: 1570 × 975 × 80 mm
Presented by Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton 1940

Display caption

Until the First World War (1914-1918) military service was still perceived as a noble and useful profession for the British aristocracy, who functioned as guardians of the British Empire. General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton (1853-1947) is portrayed as Colonel and Commander of the 3rd Brigade of the Tirah Expeditionary Force on the N.W. Frontier of India. He broke his leg before the campaign and was in fact unable to take part in the Battle of Dargai of 1897, rejoining his command only after the fighting had ceased. But like other portraits of this type, the picture does not represent a moment in the sitter's life. Instead, it is an emblematic image celebrating the sitter's achievements and social status.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry


Inscr. ‘John S. Sargent’ t.l.
Canvas, 54 1/2×31 (138·5×79).
Presented by General Sir Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., G.C.M.G., D.S.O., 1940.
Coll: Commissioned by the sitter from the artist.
Exh: New Gallery, summer 1899 (149); 70th Annual Exhibition, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, January–February 1901 (28); Venice Biennale, 1907 (English Pavilion, 26); Zweite Ausstellung der Königlichen Akademie der Künste, Berlin, November 1907–January 1908 (10); Naval and Military Works, Guildhall, June–August 1915 (38); Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield, 1915 (no catalogue); R.A., winter 1926 (21, repr. Illustrations of the Sargent Exhibition, p.60); York, March–May 1926 (10).
Lit: Art Journal, 1899, p.187, repr.; Downes, 1925, pp.185–6, repr. facing p.184; Charteris, 1927, p.267; Mount, 1955, p.436; McKibbin, 1956, p.100; Mount, 1957, p.345.
Repr: Kunst für Alle, XXIII, 1907–8, p.26; Manson and Meynell, 1927, n.p.

General Sir Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton (1853–1947) is here portrayed as a colonel and commander of the 3rd Brigade of the Tirah Expeditionary Force on the N.W. Frontier of India. He would have been in the Battle of Dargai (1897), but broke his leg before the campaign began and rejoined his command only after the fighting was over. This portrait must have been painted soon after his return to England in May 1898, on his appointment to command the Musketry School at Hythe. He later became commander of the Dardanelles Expeditionary Force 1915, and in 1920 published his two-volume Gallipoli Diary. Sir Ian was also a collector and bequeathed Sickert's ‘St Mark's, Venice’ (N05914) to the Tate Gallery.

A three-quarter view head and shoulders portrait, 27 1/2×20, inscribed ‘To Mrs Ian Hamilton’, was given by Lady Hamilton to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 1941. The sitter wears khaki drill uniform and in the background are regimental colours. (See also N05247.)

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, II

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