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Arthur William Devis, 1762–1822
Frances, Lady Chambers (née Wilton)
Former Title(s):
Lady Chambers
Materials & Techniques:
Oil on canvas
42 × 28 5/8 inches (106.7 × 72.7 cm), Frame: 54 × 40 3/4 inches (137.2 × 103.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
blue | building | landscape | mosque | portrait | woman
Associated Places:
Bhowanipore | India
Associated People:
Chambers (née Wilton), Lady Frances (1759–1839), wife of Sir Robert Chambers (1737–1803), jurist and judge; daughter of Joseph Wilton (1722–1803), sculptor
Not on view
IIIF Manifest:

Devis was commissioned to paint these portraits of Sir Robert Chambers (1737-1803) and his wife, Lady Frances (1758-1839), shortly after his arrival in Kolkata from London. That year, the couple celebrated their tenth marriage anniversary and ten years spent together in India. The portraits were likely made to celebrate Sir Robert's new role as the acting chief justice for the Supreme Court of Bengal in 1784. He is shown on the portico of the New Courthouse in Kolkata in his judges' robes, bewigged, and holding a legal document inscribed with "In the Supreme [Court]." Lady Chambers sits beneath a tree at their garden home in Bhowanipore, just outside of Kolkata.
The composition of both portraits mirrors the format of paintings of landowners and their country houses in Britain, of the type made by Devis's father, Arthur Devis (1712-1787), but here applied to India.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2021

Frances Chambers was the daughter of the sculptor Joseph Wilton. She came to India with her husband in 1774, and remained there until illness forced her to leave in 1791. During this time she had seven children, two of whom died in India. She is depicted in a setting suggestive of the garden house in Bhawanipur, outside of Calcutta, that she used as a summer retreat.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2010

Britain's Portable Empire : Campaign Furniture of the 18-19th Centuries (Katonah Museum of Art, 2001-07-08 - 2001-09-30) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Brian Allen, Joseph Wilton, Francis Hayman and the Chimney-Pieces from Northumberland House, Burlington Magazine, vol. 125, The Burlington Magazine Publications Ltd., April 1983, p. 196-199, N1B87125:1 Also available online at JSTOR. Stable URL : http://www.jstor.org/stable/881097 [ORBIS]

Mildred Archer, India and British Portraiture, 1770-1825, Sotheby Parke Bernet, London, 1979, pp. 239, 241, 503, fig. 163, ND 1327 I44 A72 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Nicholas A. Brawer, Britain's Portable Empire: Campaign Furniture of the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian Periods, Katonah Museum of Art, New York, 2001, p. 10, 11, Fig. 7, V 0844 [ORBIS]

Malcolm Cormack, Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 88-89, N590.2 A83 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Thomas Curley, Sir Robert Chambers: Law, Literature, and Empire in the Age of Johnson, University of Wisconsin Press, Madisn, Wisconsin, 1998, p. 322, Fig. 16, KD621 C48 C87X 1998 (SML) [ORBIS]

John McAleer, Picturing India People, Places, and the World of the East India Company, The British Library, London, p. 165, fig. 4.23, N8214.5.I5 M43 2017 (YCBA) [YCBA]

Pauline Rohatgi, Indian life and landscape by Western artists, paintings and drawings from the Victoria and Albert Museum, 17th to the early 20th century , Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya, Mumbai, 2008, pp. 109-111, fig. 10, N8214.5 I5 V53 2008 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

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