The Fanshawes' sitting room by Edward Gennys Fanshawe

The Fanshawes' sitting room

Edward Gennys Fanshawe

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The Fanshawes' sitting room

Mounted in album with PAI4606-PAI4670. This is the opening drawing in the album otherwise covering Fanshawe's Pacific commission in command of HMS 'Daphne', 1848-1852, although itself probably later. It shows a first-floor town-house drawing room, with windows opening onto a balcony above the street, and dividing partition doors to the room behind. The picture in the centre of the side wall above the writing table shows this is Fanshawe's home: it represents 'Daphne' on the left, with HMS 'Asia' and 'Implacable', off Alexandria in 1840. Fanshawe was then first lieutenant of 'Daphne' under Captain John Wyndham Dalling, subsequently his brother-in-law, who commissioned the original painting from Charles Seaforth to make a pair with one by him of Dalling's previous command, the 'Dido'. Seaforth completed it in 1842 and Fanshawe had a good watercolour copy made by a Mrs Fox. The latter is reproduced in his biography (1904), f. p. 80. A crucifix prominent on the table is evidence of Fanshawes' piety: even as a young man his reading included theology. (The family motto was 'Dux vitae ratio, in cruce victoria' - ' reason is the guide to life, in the cross lies victory'.) The architectural ornament suggests a late-18th to mid-19th-century date for the house. It is not 39 Chester Terrace, the Fanshawes' first London home from 1847 (which overlooks Regent's Park), but either 27 Rutland Gate (from May 1855), 63 Eaton Square (from autumn 1863), or 74 Cromwell Road, South Kensington, which they bought in 1875. The manner, subject, absence of Fanshawe's usual album caption, and a note in his biography (p. 328) suggest it may alternatively be by his sister Frances (Mrs Dalling). On 30 November 1855 Fanshawe wrote to his own wife, Jane, from the Baltic: 'I have just returned from dining with J. Stopford and found Fanny's drawings of our rooms [27 Rutland Gate] on my table. I am very much pleased with them...'. The divided room, windows and balcony rail are also consistent with Eaton Square, however. Whatever the case, the frame of the painting on the wall also suggests it might be Seaforth's original oil: for Dalling died in 1853 and it may have passed to Fanshawe, though if so it is strange that it was the copy which was used for his biography.
Edward Gennys Fanshawe

Original size: 230 mm x 325 mm

  • Image reference: PZ4605

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