Robert Home, register of sitters

Scope and Content

This volume provides a record of Robert Home's portraiture business in Calcutta from his arrival in June 1795 to January 1841. The entries in the volume are arranged by month and year and give details of the name of the sitters; the date they were painted; the type of portrait painted i.e. head or half length; the amount charged (in Rupees) and details of when payment was received. Amongst the sitters recorded are Richard, first Marquess Wellesley, when govoner general and his brother Arthur, the future Duke of Wellington. Details of Home's movements are recorded in the volume. Also includes two inserts one of which is a list of items and the other is a document concerning a girl named Pulla or Lulla the daughter of Neeti.

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Home (1752-1834) was born in Hull on 6 August 1752 the son of Robert Home (1713-1786), a former army surgeon, and his wife Mary (d. 1795). His parents had hoped for him to enter medicine and at twelve or thirteen he stowed away on a ship bound for Newfoundland to escape this pressure. He was reunited with his family eighteen months later, they had since moved to London and were living on Pall Mall and had become acquainted with the anatomist John Hunter who would later marry Home's sister Anne. Hunter instructed Home in anatomical drawing, he also received encouragement from Angelica Kauffmann and on 14 February 1769 he entered the Royal Academy Schools. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1770 and continued to contribute intermittently up until 1813 - exhibiting 23 paintings in total.

Between 1773 and 1777 Home lived on the continent, mainly being based in Rome where he undertook small commissions and made studies of antiquities. On returning to London he tried to establish a career as a portrait artist but when this proved to be unsuccessful he moved to Dublin in 1780 under the patronage of Lord Lifford the Irish chancellor. In Dublin he exhibited 22 paintings at the Artists' Exhibition in 1780 and in 1782 he undertook eight portraits for Trinity College theatre at a charge of 35 guineas each. On 8 September 1783 Home married Suzanna, the daughter of Solomon Delane; they had one daughter Anne and at least three sons. Home returned to London in 1789 as a rival portrait painter had emerged in Dublin and also because of Suzanna's failing health. Suzanna Home died in 1790 and shortly after Home, leaving his children with relatives, left for India - without permission from the East India Company.

He arrived in Madras in January 1791 and initially found work painting theatrical scenery; he later gained permission to accompany the grand army to Bangalore during the Third Anglo-Mysore War. He spent just over a year with the army sketching captured forts, officers and the local countryside. He witnessed and later painted the handing over of the hostage princes to Lord Cornwallis, the painting is now in the National Army Museum. Home maintained contact with the British military and within six months of returning to Madras he was commissioned through a raised subscription to paint several notable portraits including the death of Colonel Joseph Moorhouse.

Home arrived in Calcutta in June 1795 and in September that year he married Alicia Patterson (d. 1817), his children later joined him from Britain. He became a member of the Asiatic Society in 1797, serving as secretary from March 1802 to April 1804. His business flourished amongst the portraits he painted were 14 of Sir Arthur Wellesley (later first Duke of Wellington). Home prospered as he accepted commissions large and small, as well as portraiture he also painted indigenous mammals, birds and reptiles. In 1814 Home moved to Lucknow as historical and portrait painter at the court of Oudh, earning 5000 sicca rupees per annum. He remained in Lucknow until 1825 when he resigned and moved to Cawnpore with his daughter and granddaughter. He died there on 12 September 1834; his sons presented his collection of paintings to the Asiatic Society in November 1834.

This biographical description is largely based on Tina Fiske, 'Home, Robert (1752-1834)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2010 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/20326?docPos=1, accessed 27 Jan 2017]

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

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