Attributed to Sir Francis Grant , PRA , 1803-1878
Charles Thomas Constantine Grant, JP, DL, 1832-1891, Laird of Kilgraston
Charles Thomas Constantine Grant, JP, DL,
17th June 1847

on a label "Charles T.C.Grant 2nd son of / John Grant of Kilgraston/ Leftto J Pat.....Hamilton Grant  Bul... Prestwick"

38.50 x 30 cm (15.1/4 x 12in.)


In Undress Naval Uniform   


By Descent from J Pat.... Hamilton Grant B...Prestwick


Charles Thomas Constantine Grant was the second son of John Grant of Kilgraston, near Bridge of Earn, Perthshire and his wife Lady Lucy Bruce (3rd daughter of the Earl of Elgin. He was born in 1832 at Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland.He was the third eldest of 13 siblings and Nephew of the Artist Sir Francis Grant PRA. 1803-1878. He married Janet Matilda Hay on the 8th October 1856 , she was the daughter of William Hay and Mary Garstin and they had a daughter Lucy Blanche Cordelia Grant.

Charles Grant entered the Navy at an early age. He served as a Midshipman on HMS Agincourt in 1846 , the flagship in which the Rajah Sir James Brooke 1803-1868 accompanied Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane from Sarawak to Brunei. Grant became a favorite of the Rajah who took an interest in his career; they met again in England during 1847. Grant served with Charlie Johnson,(who would later become the 2nd Rajah Brooke ) Brookes nephew and son of his sister. Brooke enjoyed the vivacity of the young Boys on these ships , He called "Grant Hoddy Doddy". James Brooke had assiduously courted Grant with letters , poems and handsome presents ever since he first encountered the boy on HMS Agincourt in 1846. Brooke had arranged for "Hoddy Doddy " to be transferred to Kepples command and used his considerable charm to persuade the Laird of Kilgraston to let his son leave the navy and start work in the Sarawak Service once the Meander arrived in Kuching. Brooke had wanted his nephew Charlie Johnson also to quit the Navy for Sarawak. He had also persuaded Charlie's elder brother Brooke Johnson to leave the army and come to Sarawak with the promise of making him his heir, he became the Rajah's Aide-de-Camp and held the Title Tuan Besar. He had also changed his name to Brooke Brooke by deed pole. Their Cousin Arthur Crookshank aged 19 was also asked to join them and he remained there in charge suported by 2-3 ex seamen and frank McDougall the Bishop of Sarawak, while the Rajah James Brooke had returned to England.

Grant was appointed to HMS Meander, the ship that carried the Rajah back to Sarawak in 1848 after his triumphs in England where he had been acclaimed by the nation and knighted by the Queen.Rajah brought much needed reinforcements on his return, Spencer St John was to be the Rajah's private secretary. James Brooke wrote to the boy's father in Scotland proposing that he should leave the Navy and make his career in Sarawak . He became the Rajah's private secretary, and a valued member of the Government Service. Charlie Johnson met James Brooke in the early 1851 while James Brooke had called in at Malta with 2 Hoddy Doddy " when he finally agreed to work for his Uncle. Charlie Johnson arrived in Kuching in 1852 with James Brooke and Grant returning in 1853 after 2 years absence. Charles Grant served sixteen years in Sarawak with Brooke Brooke and remained till the end of his life a devoted and loyal friend. A strain in the freindship with James Brooke appeared in 1857 when Brooke Brooke and Charles Grant returned to Kuching with wives, Brooke Brooke marrying Grant's sister Annie and Grant had married his sisters friend Matilda Hay. The two wives had quickly transformed the masculine word of Kuching with a new moral and social regime centered on the piano and Parlour. James Brooke increasingly felt his separation from Charles Grant blaming Brooke Brooke and also suffering from ill health James Brooke made plans for retirement. Cassandra Pybus book "White Rajah" goes into much detail about dynastic succession where Brooke Brooke was bypassed for Charlie Johnson who became the 2nd Rajah Brooke in 1868.

It was a remarkable group of young men whom Sir James gathered round him at that time -- men who embraced a life of considerable hardship, loneliness and danger, and gave devoted service to the Rajah and his adopted country. In addition to a common allegiance and mutual dependence in an alien land, they shared the bond of similar background and upbringing. It was chiefly from the families of Brooke, Johnson and Grant that these men were drawn: brothers, sons and cousins were introduced into the Rajah's service and came under the influence of his strong personality. Inter-marriage strengthened ties of family and friendship. Harry Kepple wryly called these young men "The Rajah's Bower". Brooke Brooke married Charles Grant's sister; Grant's wife brought her brother Robert Hay, who became Brooke's good friend and supporter; not only Brooke's brother Charles joined him in the Service but later his younger brother Stuart, and his sister Mary's brother-in-law Harry Nicholetts.

Grant and his wife returned to his native Scotland when James Brooke retired to Sheepstore, Devon, Grant settled back to managing his estate in Kilgraston, Perthshire, he became and JP and DL.

It is interesting to note that the full length portrait of Sir James Brooke now in the National Portrait Gallery collection was painted in 1847 by Charles T. C. Grants Uncle, Sir Francis Grant, it is highly likely that this pastel portrait was drawn at the same time, it is intriguing that James Brooke and Charles Grant are both wearing the similar “Undress Naval uniform” particularly the white cotton shirt and black cravat.  ‘The sittings for the Portrait of Sir James Brooke (now in the National Portrait Gallery) took place in October 1847, soon after James Brooke’s arrival in England for a four-month stay. The swift timing suggests that the commission resulted from Brooke’s existing acquaintance with the artist’s family. Brooke had met James Hope Grant, an army officer and one of Francis Grant’s younger brothers, and a younger Uncle to Charles Grant,  in 1844 while recovering in Penang after an attack against Malay pirates.’

National Portrait Gallery, London

Later, in 1848, Brooke is alleged to have formed a relationship with 16 year old Charles T. C. Grant, who supposedly 'reciprocated'. Whether this relationship was purely a friendship or otherwise has not been fully revealed. One of Brooke's recent biographers wrote that as Brooke spent his final years in Burrator in Devon "there is little doubt ... he was carnally involved with the rough trade of Totnes." However, Barley does not note from where he garnered his opinion. Others have suggested Brooke was instead "homo-social" and simply preferred the social company of other men and have disagreed with assertions he was a homosexual.

Artist biography

Grant, Sir Francis (1803–1878), portrait and sporting painter, was born on 18 January 1803 in Edinburgh, the fourth of seven children of Francis Grant (d. 1819), laird of Kilgraston, Perthshire, a landowner with estates in Scotland and Jamaica, and his wife, Anne Oliphant. His brother was General Sir James Hope Grant (1808–1875). From the age of eleven to thirteen, Francis Grant attended Harrow School, and he finished his education at Edinburgh high school in 1818. Sir Walter Scott left the following account of the young Francis Grant in his journal of 1831:

In youth, that is extreme youth, he was passionately fond of fox-hunting and other sports … He also had a strong passion for painting, and made a little collection. As he had enough sense to feel that a younger brother's fortune would not last long under the expenses of a good stud and a rare collection of chef-d'œuvres, he used to avow his intention to spend his patrimony, about £10,000, and then again to make his fortune by the law. The first he soon accomplished. But the law is not a profession so easily acquired, nor did Frank's talents lie in that direction. His passion for painting turned out better. (Journal, 802–3)

Grant did study for the Scottish bar for one year, but he soon decided to make a career as an artist. In 1826 Grant married Amelia Farquharson, the daughter of a Scottish laird; Amelia died in 1827, after the birth of their son. Grant's second wife, Isabella Elizabeth Norman, whom he married in 1829, gave birth to three sons and four daughters during the course of their marriage. Isabella was a niece of the duke of Rutland, the leader of hunting society at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. Grant had frequented the hunts at Melton Mowbray since 1820, where he became acquainted with the sporting artist John Ferneley. He studied painting briefly with Ferneley, and possibly with Alexander Nasmyth in Edinburgh.

Grant's second marriage gave him access to many clients among the hunting set in Melton Mowbray, and his first successes were sporting pictures such as A Meet of the Fife Hounds(1833; Scot. NPG). In 1834 Grant's The Melton Breakfast (priv. coll.) was shown at the Royal Academy, and proved extremely popular as an engraving. In 1837 The Meeting of his Majesty's Staghounds on Ascot Heath (ex Christies, 31 May 1918) was accepted to the Royal Academy exhibition, and in 1855 it was awarded a gold medal at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. Grant's next major sporting picture, The Melton Hunt Going to Draw the Ram's Head Cover (exh. RA, 1839; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts), was praised for its accurate portrayal of thirty-six different riders, as well as its lively and varied composition. Unlike his earlier cabinet-sized hunting scenes, The Melton Hunt Going to Draw featured life-size figures in motion. In 1840, Grant received a commission to paint Queen Victoria. His Queen Victoria Riding out (exh. RA, 1840; Royal Collection) shows the queen taking exercise in Windsor Great Park with members of her household. Victoria's diaries provide an invaluable account of the process by which he painted such large, multi-figure equestrian portraits. Grant generally painted the horses in his studio, which was equipped for live animals. For the portraits, he often posed his sitters astride a wooden horse, and the queen described Lord Melbourne sitting to Grant ‘on that wooden horse without head or tail, looking so funny, his white hat on, an umbrella in lieu of a stick’ (Millar, 84). Many years later Willoughby de Broke contrasted his paintings favourably with photographs: the great painter of the English gentry, ‘he was of their class; he knew how a well-bred man ought to sit on a well-bred horse, and he put him there, as few other artists ever could, plumb on the middle of the saddle’ (Broke, 11).

The success of Queen Victoria Riding out allowed Grant to concentrate primarily on portraiture, as opposed to sporting painting, after 1840. Grant's success in this genre was unmatched by his contemporaries. The portraits he produced in the latter half of his career are notable for their large scale and broad brushwork, anticipating trends in later Victorian and Edwardian portraiture. He painted many of the famous figures of his day, including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, in equestrian portraits for Christ's Hospital, London (exh. RA, 1846; governors of Christ's Hospital, London), Henry Hardinge, first Viscount Hardinge of Lahore (exh. RA, 1850; NPG), Benjamin Disraeli (exh. RA, 1852), Edwin Landseer (c.1852; NPG), John Russell, first Earl Russell (1853; NPG), and Thomas Babington Macaulay, Baron Macaulay (1853; NPG). Grant's success was often attributed to his good looks and aristocratic background, but his popularity was more probably due to the fact that he tempered the heroic intensity of Thomas Lawrence's windswept, Romantic portraits with a dose of Victorian sobriety, while never forsaking gentle idealization of the face and figure of his sitter. His style complemented perfectly the aristocratic collections of his patrons, which often contained works by Van Dyck, Gainsborough, and Thomas Lawrence. Grant's portraits of women were particularly popular and well received. Important examples include The Daughters of the Duke of Norfolk (exh. RA, 1848; priv. coll.) and Louise, Marchioness of Waterford (1857; NPG). His most experimental portraits, such as Daisy Grant (exh. RA, 1857; NG Scot.) and Elizabeth Grant (1851; RA), portray his own daughters.

Grant was also a distinguished and influential member of the Royal Academy. In 1866, after his friend Edwin Landseer declined the position, Grant was elected president of the Royal Academy; that same year he was knighted. As president, he negotiated the Royal Academy's 999-year lease on Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, for the rate of £1 a year, and oversaw its renovation. Grant introduced honorary memberships in 1868, and instituted the annual winter loan exhibition in 1870. According to Francis Frith,

For ‘dear old Grant’, as we always called him, every member of the Academy … had the warmest affection … There was a rollicking, foxhunting kind of flavour about his speeches, he leapt over art questions, and just shook his whip at the students, or at the shortcoming of the exhibition. (Wills, ‘Sir Francis Grant as a sporting painter’)

Some critics accused Grant of promoting the interests of portraiture at the expense of other genres. In 1868 Grant lifted the ban on whole-length and half-length portraits being hung at eye level, or ‘on the line’, in the exhibition galleries. According to G. D. Leslie, ‘Coincidentally with the invasion of the line by the life-sized portraits, the patronage hitherto given to subject-pictures began to fall lamentably, and in consequence of this a great number of distinguished painters, who formerly produced important works of figure subjects, began to take to portraiture’ (B. Denvir, ed., The Late Victorians: Art, Design and Society, 1852–1910, 1986, 35).

After several years of failing health Grant died of heart disease at his country home, The Lodge, at Melton Mowbray, on 5 October 1878. Grant's family declined the honour of interment at St Paul's Cathedral, and Grant was buried on 12 October 1878 in the Church of England cemetery at Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire. He was survived by his wife.

A. Cassandra Albinson   DNB