Topic: Artist

Group Leader: Ruth Brimacombe

Could this be by Edward Fancourt (1808–1849), brother of Rev. William Joseph Fancourt, Curate of Malvern Priory and second incumbent of St Mary's, Guarlford, near Malvern?

In 1825 Edward Fancourt painted a copy of Van Dyck's ‘Virgin and Child’ in Durham University. http://tinyurl.com/23bhr9bz Turner records him as a student at the RA in 1819 in his Notes on Royal Academy Business [Tate].

The sitter may be the wife of Rev. Thomas Mills, of whom there is a stipple engraving in the National Portrait Gallery [NPG D38413] which could be after Fancourt. http://tinyurl.com/mrxrhmva The Rev. Mills (1791–1879) of Sudbury, Suffolk was Rector of Stutton, Great Saxham, Suffolk for 58 years and Chaplain to the Crown for 63 years. Stutton is 7 miles from Ipswich.

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK


Jacinto Regalado also submitted a query on this portrait:

‘Assuming this is signed Fancourt and dated 1845, I think it could be attributed to the portrait painter Edward Fancourt, whose year of birth is variably given as c.1802 or 1808 and who reportedly died in 1849. Two other works on Art UK (including a copy after van Dyck) and a portrait which was engraved would appear to be by the same artist. Note that all three portraits (see below) have plain dark backgrounds:


An E. Fancourt exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1820 and 1821 from a 31 Hoxton Square address, the same address given for E. Fancourt in the print after his portrait linked above, which was also published by him. This suggests the c.1802 year of birth is more likely than 1808. Perhaps a public discussion could reveal more information about the artist.’

Kieran Owens,

Edward Fancourt was born on the 22nd July 1801 in Southwark, Surrey and was baptised on the 18th August of that same year at Saint Saviour's Church, Southwark. He was the son and the second of the six children of the Rev. Thomas Fancourt (1768-1857) and his wife Jane Ball Collins (1771-1843). On the 26th December 1827 he was married at Knightwick, Worcester, to Anne Wilberforce Bell (1808-1867), which whom, between 1831 and 1844, he had eight children.

In May of 1822, while living with his parents at 31, Hoxton Square, London, Fancourt was awarded the Large Silver Medal by the Society of Arts for "an original portrait in oil".

He was educated at the Royal Academy schools where, in 1824, as a pupil of one of either Richard (1774–1849) or his half-brother Henry Sass (1788–1844), he won a Silver Medal for the best drawing from the antique. In December of 1825, still as a pupil of "Mr. Sass", he won another Silver Medal, this time for best copy made in oil at the Painting School.

Fancourt exhibited twice at the RA, in 1820, as catalogue no. 749, with a 'Portrait of a Young Lady', and in 1821, from 31, Hoxton Square, as catalogue no. 341, with a 'Portrait of a Lady in her 82nd Year'.

He died at Hoxton Square, London, on the 1st March 1849 and was buried at St Leonard's, Shoreditch. His death notice in the Saint James's Chronicle of Tuesday 6th March 1849 read:

"March 1, at the house of his father, the Rev. T. Fancourt, Hoxton Square, Mr. E. Fancourt, Artist, after a few days illness."

Kieran Owens,

A mezzotint of the Rev. Watts Wilkinson, engraved by Thomas Goff Lupton, after a painting by Edward Fancourt, was published by Fancourt from his address at 31, Hoxton Square:


Also, from Mary Kirby's "Letters from My Life" (1888), an interesting description of the artist's character, and of his "remarkably handsome" wife, can be read here:


Kieran Owens,

If this is a portrait from 1845 of The Hon. Mrs E. Mills, then she is Elizabeth Frances Barrington (Sedgefield, Durham, 18th October 1811 - Hertford, Hertfordshire, 26th July 1886) and she would be 34 years old in this portrait. Elizabeth was the daughter of Viscount George Barrington and his wife Elizabeth Adair. She married, as his second wife, the Reverend Thomas Mills on the 13th December 1836 (see attached, from the Suffolk Chronicle of Saturday 17th December 1836).

It should be noted on the attached composite, of this discussion's portrait and that of 'The Hon. Mrs. Mills' from the NPG's collection, that the sitter in both images is wearing a wedding ring of similar broad design, so if the etching is of one and the same person as our portrait then it would date from after 1836.

A history of the Barrington family can be read here:


From it is the following:

'The Hon. Elizabeth Frances Barrington (1811-86), born 18 October and baptised at Sedgefield, 17 November 1811; married, 13 December 1836 at Shrivenham, as his second wife, Rev. Thomas Mills (1791-1879), chaplain in ordinary to Queen Victoria and rector of Stutton (Suffk), but had no issue; lived latterly at Hill House, Hatfield (Herts); died 26 July 1886; will proved 21 August 1886 (effects £18,874)'

Jacinto Regalado,

The NPG engraving is probably a proof before letters. The same engraving, apparently the published version with lettering, is here http://tinyurl.com/3fh6j29h , and gives the engraver, the painter (one T. Sampson) and the date of publication (1842). The source painting, of course, could be and probably was earlier, most likely 1830s (the engraved sitter clearly looks younger than our lady).

While speculative, this 1863 photo of a Mrs. Mills at the NPG may be of the same woman: http://tinyurl.com/mpdmupzr

Alana Duggan,

Is it signed or dated? If not, what is the argument for attributing it to Fancourt? I don't see a strong connection stylistically to Fancourt's other works.

Kieran Owens,

More about the Fancourt family can be seen here:


If Alana Duggan's stylistic comment is comparing the 1827 portrait of the the Reverend Joseph Wolff to this 1845 portrait of the Hon. Mrs. E. Mills, Fancourt could easily have improved his skill as a painter during the intervening eighteen years:



Jacinto Regalado,

The print of the portrait of Wolff was published in 1827, but the source painting could be earlier.

The curator, Emma Roodhouse, had another close look at the painting yesterday and there is no signature on the front. It’s secured to the wall so she was unable to get it down to look at the back. She will look at the history file, but the accession register information is currently inaccessible.

Jacinto Regalado,

Based on the print after it https://bit.ly/3CoNb8V , Fancourt's portrait of Watts Wilkinson was clearly more accomplished than his portrait of Joseph Wolff. The print of Wilkinson's portrait is not dated, but it may have been published c. 1840, when he died.

Jacinto Regalado,

Fancourt was the son of a clergyman, which no doubt relates to the apparent preponderance of clerical sitters for his portraits, which would include Mrs Mills (who was married to a clergyman).

Kieran Owens,

In 1848, the engraver William Holl produced a print of Edward Berkeley Portman, 1st Viscount Portman (1799-1888) after a portrait by Fancourt, in the year before the artist's death:


Marcie Doran,

After pecuniary legacies and expenses for funeral expenses and debts, Elizabeth left the residue of her estate to be divided equally between the Honourable Harriet Octavia Legge and the Honourable Wilhelmina Brooke ("wife of John Townshend Brooke Esquire"). Her will was dated the 2nd November 1879 and it had four codicils.

Kieran Owens,

The Hon. Harriet Octavia Legge and the Hon. Wilhelmina Brooke were Elizabeth's nieces, the two youngest children of the seven children of her older sister the Hon. Frances Barrington (1802-1849)

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