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James Sant

James Sant Painting - The Fairy Tale by James Sant

The Fairy Tale

 Painting - Early Breakfast by James Sant

Early Breakfast

 Painting - Portrait Of A Young Cricketer by James Sant

Portrait Of A Young Cricketer

James Sant CVO RA (1820–1916) was a British painter specialising in portraits and known particularly for images of children and artistic exploration of the symbolism of childhood.[1] He was a member of the Royal Academy.[2] His brother George and sister Sarah were also artists.[3]


Sant was born in Croydon, Surrey, England, on 23 April 1820. He was taught first by the watercolourist John Varley, then by Augustus Wall Callcott,[4] then from the age of twenty was taught by the schools of the Royal Academy.

James Sant

He lived to the age of 96 and exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery as well as producing nearly three hundred canvases for exhibition at the Academy. The first of these, a portrait of his father William Sant,[5] was exhibited in 1840;[6] the last was exhibited in 1915. In 1851 he married Elizabeth (Eliza) Thomson, daughter of Dr R.M.M. Thomson, a surgeon and member of the Agri Horticultural Society of India.[7] His 1853 picture of the infant Samuel was his first popular success, and engravings of this and of Little Red Riding Hood and The Soul’s Awakening sold in great numbers.

In 1861, his portraits of friends and relatives of Frances, Lady Waldegrave were exhibited by Ernest Gambart at his Gallery in Pall Mall. This enhanced his reputation and he was elected ARA, and later RA; in 1871 he was appointed Principal Painter in Ordinary (official portraitist) to Queen Victoria, having become known for his portraits of the royal children and in particular his 1870 portrait of Prince Leopold and Princess Beatrice.

Sant is best known for his portraits of children; he was "the emperor of children," in the words of the Athenaeum. Nevertheless, many of his pictures were landscapes and particularly gardens; he also painted seascapes, landscapes with animals, and other subjects including the Wish Tower, a Martello Tower at Eastbourne. His later pictures are freer in style and some have a visionary or mannerist quality; his landscapes could include figures with blank or distorted features or simple silhouettes such as the nun in Convent Walls (1910). He continued painting into old age; All My Fancy! (1910), an Italian landscape with villa and hills, he painted in bed from memory.[8]

He became a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in 1914 and resigned from the RA in the same year to "make room for younger men." He died in Lancaster Gate, London, on 12 July 1916. His work can be found at the Tate Gallery and at the National Portrait Gallery.

His sister Sarah Sherwood Clarke was also an accomplished artist: but all that is presently known of her work is a collection of 48 different views of Scotland from 1854;[9] these were exhibited for the first time at the "Watercolours & Works on Paper Fair" in London in February 2010.[10] She married Frederick Clarke, Superintendent and later Secretary of the London and South Western Railway.

His brother George Sant RBA (Royal Society of British Artists)(1821–1877) was a landscape painter and the two brothers occasionally collaborated on paintings. Both James and George Sant were among the notable artist acquaintances of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll); James Sant, his daughter Sarah Fanny[11] and son Jemmy were the subjects of photographic studies by Dodgson.[12]


Self Portrait

A Thorn Amidst the Roses

Legacy and offices
Court offices
Preceded by
Sir George Hayter Principal Painter in Ordinary to the Queen
1871–1901 Succeeded by


Biography with photo
Acquaintance with Lewis Carroll
James Sant's son photographed by Lewis Carroll


"James Sant, C.V.O., R.A. (1820-1916)". Retrieved October 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
"James Sant (1820-1916), Painter". Retrieved September 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
"James Sant". Retrieved 22 December 2015.
"The Library of Nineteenth Century Photography". Retrieved 24 September 2015.
"Sant, James (1820-1916), portrait and genre painter". Retrieved 22 December 2015.
"Classical Portrait of a Man". Retrieved 22 December 2015.
"James Sant; Eliza Sant (née Thomson)". Retrieved October 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
"All My Fancy". Retrieved October 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
"Sarah Sherwood Clarke nee Sant". Retrieved September 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
"Watercolours + Works on Paper". Retrieved 24 September 2015.
"James Sant (1820-1916), Painter". Retrieved October 2015. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
"Lewis Carroll". Retrieved 24 September 2015.

Artist, UK


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