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James Northcote RA, Portrait of Thomas Banks, R.A.

Portrait of Thomas Banks, R.A., 1792

James Northcote RA (1746 - 1831)

RA Collection: Art

James Northcote and Thomas Banks RA (1735–1805) were longstanding friends, having first met in Rome as students in 1777. Banks had been awarded the Royal Academy’s two-year Travelling Scholarship in 1772 and they both returned to London in the early 1780s. At first Northcote struggled to make a living as a portrait painter, but after 1784 found more success with history painting. In 1792 Northcote painted not only this fine portrait of his friend but also another of Banks’s wife and daughter.

On his return from Italy Banks gained many commissions for church memorials and was elected a Royal Academician in 1785. However his reputation as a committed democrat and supporter of the French Revolution adversely affected his career, destroying his hopes of election to the Keepership of the Royal Academy Schools and even leading to arrest on a charge of treason in 1794.

Object details

Portrait of Thomas Banks, R.A.
James Northcote RA (1746 - 1831)
Object type
Oil on canvas

765 mm x 640 mm x 20 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Given by Charles Francis Bell 1965

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