Hammersley (Mary Frances Grant, 1863-1911), my grandfather's
painted in 1892 by John Singer Sargent. This painting is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
She was the daughter of General Owen Edward Grant and Adelaide Higginson (See 'The Plantagenet Roll of the Blood Royal', Essex Volume, p. 289). Adelaide Higginson was the daughter of General George Powell Higginson, Grenadier Guards, Col. of the 94th Regiment*, who carried the Regimental Colours of the Grenadier Guards at the Battle of Corunna (1809), by his wife Lady Frances Elizabeth Needham (d. 1890), daughter of the 1st Earl of Kilmorey (who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775) seated at Shavington Hall (or Park), nr. Market Drayton, Shropshire, which was demolished in 1958 (See Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage'). Mary's grandfather, General James Grant (b. 1778) was the son of James Grant of Dalvey**, third in descent from Sir James Grant of Dalvey, created a baronet in 1688. The Grants of Dalvey are a branch of the family of Grant of Grant. See the entries for 'Grant of Dalvey' and Lords Strathspey, Chief of Grant in Burke's 'Peerage & Baronetage'. General Grant's wife was Mary Blencowe, daughter of Robert Blencowe of Hayes Park, Middlesex (See Burke's Landed Gentry under 'Tillard of the Hooke'). They were descended from the Blencowes of Blencowe, Cumbria, and from Adam de Blencowe, born 1310. Hugh Hammersley was born in 1858 and they were married in 1889. They had one child, Eva Mary (1891-1902). Hugh married, secondly, in 1913 Mabel Elizabeth Lilford ( 'Aunt Dorothy'), by whom he had no issue.
Shavington Hall, Market Drayton, Shropshire in the late 19th century.
Mary Frances Grant's uncle, General Sir George Wentworth Alexander Higginson, G.C.B (21 Jun 1826 - 1 Feb 1927).
He joined the Grenadier Guards in 1845 and served as Adjutant during the Crimean War, being twice promoted for services in the field.
He later commanded the Brigade of Guards and is known as 'the father of the Brigade of Guards'.
An engraving of Lady Butler's famous painting 'The Roll Call' (1874) with Higginson mounted on left. The scene is
after the battle of Inkerman where 16,000 British and French troops defeated 42,000 Russians. The painting
caused a national sensation when it was first exhibited.
The hall at Gyldenscroft, Marlow, Bucks - General Higginson's home. He was a close friend of the royal
family and George V and Queen Mary were regular visitors to Gyldenscroft. Queen Mary planted a tree (now called 'The Queen's
Oak') in the garden, which is still there, though the house has gone.
Hugh Hammersley lived at The Grove, Hampstead which I assume is the same building as 'The Grove, Hampstead' (1821-22)
painted by Constable shown above. The building shown is Admiral's House, which still exists. This painting is now in The Tate, London.
Admiral's House today.
*The 94th Regiment (The Scots Brigade) was united with the 88th Regiment in 1881 to form the Connaught Rangers, whose favourite marching song was 'It's a long way to Tipperary'. The 2nd Battalion sang this song on 13th August 1914 as they marched in parade order through the streets of the French port of Boulogne on their way to the front. The Connaught Rangers were disbanded on 31 July 1922.
**Dalvey is apparently in the parish of Cromdale, which is near Grantown-on-Spey in the Highlands. The area around Grantown-on-Spey, as the name suggests, comprise the ancient ancestral lands of the Grant clan.
Description of painting:
Mrs. Hugh Hammersley, 1892
John Singer Sargent (American, 18561925)
Oil on canvas; 81 x 45 1/2 in. (205.7 x 115.6 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Campbell, in memory of Mrs. Richard E. Danielson, 1998
Mrs. Hammersley (born Mary Frances Grant), the twenty-nine-year-old banker's wife and fashionable London hostess, is lightly poised on an elegant French sofa. Her willowy form and candid expression suggest Sargent's ability to characterize and flatter her simultaneously. Her gold-trimmed silk-velvet dress and the sumptuous setting announce his mastery of varied textures. This portrait confirmed Sargent's skills among potential (but reluctant) English patrons when it appeared at the New Gallery in London in 1893. The positive reviews it received there and in an exhibition in 1894 finally quashed misgivings that his Madame X (Madame Pierre Gautreau) had aroused in 1884. The canvas is among the first in a series of ravishing portraits by Sargent of glamorous English women that culminated in The Wyndham Sisters (1899). Financial reverses compelled Mrs. Hammersley's widower to sell the painting in 1923. At Sargent's suggestion, it was purchased by Charles Deering, an American friend, in whose family it descended.
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