Martin Archer Shee
Portrait of Sir William Fairlie
Oil on canvas. 232 x 148 cm.
Sir William Fairlie (1754-1825) was a successful merchant of the East India Company. Born into a Scottish merchant family, Fairlie ran an agency in India with trading links as far afield as China. As the largest ship owner in Calcutta, he traded in rice, indigo and cotton. After his return to London, he became a Member of Parliament. The Irish painter Sir Martin Archer Shee portrayed Fairlie at the height of his career. The present work must have been painted before 1817, as was another, almost identical version of the portrait with comparable dimensions (Christie's London, 8th April 1998, lot 30). A mezzotint engraving by John Young after Shee´s composition, dated to the same year, is held in the National Portrait Gallery in London (NPG D36636). Sir Henry Raeburn also created a portrait of William Fairlie, showing him in advancing years.
Belgian private collection.