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Sir John George Tollemache Sinclair, Bart, MP 'A Poet'

Ape (Carlo Pellegrini) (1839-1889)



Watercolour and bodycolour with pencil

12 ½ x 7 inches

Thomas Gibson Bowles;
The John Franks Collection

Vanity Fair, 16 October 1880, Statesmen no 343, 'A Poet'

Chris Beetles & Alexander Beetles (eds.) Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection, London: Chris Beetles Ltd, 2023, page 55

'Vanity Fair 1869-1914', Church Farm House Museum, Hendon, September-December 1983;
'Portraits of Vanity Fair: The Charles Sigety Collection', Chris Beetles Gallery, London, October-November 2023, no 26

Scottish landowner Sir John Sinclair (1825-1912) was a Liberal Politician who sat in the House of Commons as MP for Caithness between 1869 and 1885.

"The northernmost rock of Scotland is his home. He was born four-and-sixty years ago; he was a page of Queen Adelaid's' and he developed into an officer of the Scots Fusiliers. But the career of arms did not suffice for a man of his abilities and consequence. He retired therefore and devoted himself to poetry, politics, and the maintenance of his social position. At twenty-six he essayed to represent Caithness-shire; and at forty-five he succeeded in being returned for it to a Parliament which he has now embellished for eleven years.

As a political power he has not been duly recognised; as a statesman he has not been appreciated. During the troubles between Russia and Turkey he printed and published, at his own expense, a large book to prove that Russia was right and ought to be supported by England, and that Mr Gladstone and the Duke of Argyll were the saviours of their country. But the Emperor of Russia took no notice of him, and the Duke of Argyll failed to return his visit. This made him understand the unworthiness of the men whom he had supported, and his natural indignation and repentance of his unappreciated efforts have been vented in verses of a moving character. For Sir Tollemache is a poet. He has written epigrams, madrigals, and idylls both in French and in English, which, with the profusion of a generous nature, he imparts to all who know him. His poetry is indeed of no common order, and is therefore beyond the understanding of the present generation, but the day will come when it will be appraised at its true value. His is forgiving and amiable, and he father of a most charming and beautiful daughter."

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