Sir Frank (Athelstane) Swettenham

Sir Frank (Athelstane) Swettenham

John Singer Sargent


Oil on canvas

67 1/4 in. x 43 1/2 in. (1708 mm x 1105 mm)

Courtesy of the National Gallery, London (NPG 4837)

Bequeathed by Sir Frank (Athelstane) Swettenham, 1971

According to the NPG site, “A portrait of the colonial administrator Sir Frank Swettenham was commissioned in 1903 from the leading society portraitist of the time, the American artist John Singer Sargent, by the Malay Straits Association of London. This portrait of Swettenham by Sargent began as a copy of the original portrait by one of Sargent's copyists but Sargent took over the painting and Swettenham gave fresh sittings. He is shown surrounded by accessories evoking his Far Eastern career: a huge globe just visible in the top left-hand corner hovers over a chair draped with the magnificent Malayan brocades that he collected. Swettenham wears his white uniform and adopts an elegant, Van Dyckian pose, leaning against the chair and gripping it with his right hand, his clawlike fingers providing a note of tension.”

Click on image to enlarge it