Larence painted Sir Walter James Bt and Charles Stewart Hardinge in 1829. Their father fought at Waterllo and became Viceroy of India. The older boy's dark suit is hard to make out, but it includes a high ruffled collar. The younger boy appars to be wearing a red tunic with long trousers. These tunics had becone quite fashionable. He also has densly curly hair that has been allowed to grow, but not over his ears. This was one of Lawrence's last portraits as he died the following year.
Sir Thomas Lawrence is one of the greatest English portratists. This child prodigy and largely self-taught artist became the fashionable portrait painter of his day. On the death of Sir. Joshua Reynolds in 1792, he was made principal painter to King George III, who knighted him in 1815. Lawrence is especially noted for his children's portraits for which he was unsurpassed in his day. His portraits of artistocratic or wealthy children provide a rich source of information on fashionable children's wear of the day. This portrait of the Hardinge brothers was one of Lawrence's last portraits as he died the following year in 1830.
Larence painted Sir Walter James Bt and Charles Stewart Hardinge in 1829. [HBC note: Bt is short for baronet, an hereditary order of knighthood, introduced by James I who sold such titles to raise funds. This rather venial title was revived for Margaret Thatcher's husband Dennis.] Their different names implies that the young men are not brothers. The boys are certainly pictured together as if they were brothers.
This is fairly unusual to have boys from different families in the same portrait, so there was obviously a very close relationship. The 1st Viscount Henry Hardinge, Charles's father, was Walter James's Stepfather. A HBC reader reports, "I have a copy of
Charles's book My Indian Peregrinations which details his letters while in India and he describes how Henry bought Walter up 'as if his own son'. Walter and Charles were very close, hence the reason for the picture. Walter went on into politics and became 1st Baron Northbourne. He and Charles both shared a love of painting."
Charles Stewart Hardinge was the second Viscount Hardinge 1822-1894 of Lahore and
King's Newton. His name sounds distinctinly Jacobian. He was, however the eldest son of Sir Henry Hardinge, first viscount of Lahore and King's Newton and a loyal subject of the King. Charles was born in London during 1822 and would have been about 6 years old when this portrait was painted. He was educated at Eton and had planned to follow his highly decorated father into the army. He suffered a severe accident while still a boy and had to be fitted with an artificial leg--of course making a army career out of the question. After graduating from Christ Church, Oxford in 1844, he accompanied his father to India and served as his private secretary. When he returned to England he was elected M.P. for Downpatrick and after his
succession to the peerage in 1856 he was under-secretary for war in Lord Derby's second administration (1858-59). He had an active interest in art owning to his father's friendship with Sir Francis Grant (1803-1878) and Sir Edwin Henry Landseer. Interestingly, given his father's military background, Charles was raised in an artistictic environment. Certainly having your portrait done by no less an artist than Sir Thomas Lawrence must have further stimulated this interest. He did some water-colors and drawings himself including several wonderful portraits of Sikh chieftains and views of scenery in Kashmir, done while he was in India. He was appointed a trustee of the British National Portrait Gallery in 1868 and chairman of the trustees in 1876. He married Lavinia, third daughter of Sir George Charles Bingham, third earl of Lucan in 1856. Thet had five sons and three daughters. [Source: Dictionary of National Biography.]
Charles' father was Sir Henry Hardinge (1785-1856). The life of Sir Henry Hardinge is beyond the scope of HBC, but is a fascinating story for those interested in English history. Like most English officers of the time, he purchased his rank as a young man, but was a competent and brave officer. He served galantly in the Peninsula Campaign with Wellington. After Napoleon escaped from Elba, Wellington ordered Hardinge to follow and report on his movements. He was Wellington's liaison officer with the Prussian army and lost his hand when Napoleon attacked the Prussians before Waterloo. Sir Henry became 1st Viscount Hardinge of Lahore, Governor-General of India. He served ably in India, promoting public education, supporting the construction of railroads, and ending the corporal punishment of native troops.
The portrait was done in 1829. The skeleton suit fashion had been in style for over a half a century and while still worn had begun to decline. Tunics were widely worn by younger boys once breeched, but we are less sure about the chronology here. The do note these tunivs in the 1920s and 30s.
The older boy's dark suit is hard to make out, but it includes a high ruffled collar. It is a long plants suit, but it does not appear to be a skeleton suit. Notice the fob, perhaps attached to a watch--although I am not positive about the availability of pocket watches in 1829. Certainly they would have been very expensive. Boys in skeleton suits did not normally carry fobs.
The younger boy appars to be wearing a red tunic. (A HBC reader describes it as a long velvet jacket.) A decade eralier this boy probably would have worn a skeleton suit. The tunic has double breasted buttons. It only closes at the top and presumably the front buttons, at least some of them, actually closed the tunic. He wears his tunic with a ruffled open colar, much like many skeletin suits were worn. Note his golden colored belt. He wears his tunic with light-colored long tan trousers.
The older boy has had his hair cut short in a rather modern-looking style. The younger boy has what looks to be natuarally curly hair which has been allowed to grow, but not down over his ears.
Hardinge, Edward. E-mail message, December 10, 2003. Edward is the great great grandson of Charles Stewart Hardinge.
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