19th-Century English School

Portrait Of William Lewis Henning

19th-Century English School

Portrait Of William Lewis Henning

This fine mid-19th-century English school oil painting depicts William Lewis Henning, a gentleman, landowner and magistrate.

Previously hanging at Frome Whitfield House in Dorchester, Dorset, this charming portrayal captures William wearing a dark green frock coat, white shirt with upstanding collar, black stock and yellow waistcoat. His hair is brushed into a particularly windswept style to convey a sense of his ‘country gent’ spirit.

William hailed from the village of Hollis Frome and spent much of his life in Dorset. In 1841, the census records him as living with his wife and four children at Grove House in Dorchester, which is now referred to as the ‘Top o’ Town House’. But, perhaps following the death of his father in 1842, he’d returned to Hollis Frome by 1851. The portrait was completed in around 1845.

Little is known about Henning’s daily lifestyle aside from the fact he was appointed as mayor of Dorchester and worked as a magistrate. According to Burke's Peerage, his wife, Ann Rose Shurlock was the only daughter and heiress of Robert Shurlock of Bramley, Surrey. The pair had at least four children including Marcia, Eliza, William and Sarah.

There are several newspaper articles referring to William Lewis Henning, with the most dramatic involving a dangerous accident. In 1844, ‘the respected gentleman, accompanied by Mrs and Miss Henning, was in the carriage on the Weymouth road, when one of the fore wheels came off, and Mr Henning was precipitated into the road falling with such violence as to break one his legs’. Mrs Henning threw herself from the carriage and escaped injury. While her daughter remained in her seat until a passerby managed to thankfully stop the horse. It’s interesting that, in later years, William became a funder of the Bridport and Exeter Railway. Perhaps he’d had enough of horses. William died in London in 1871.

Held within a remarkable gilt frame.

Medium: Oil on canvas
Overall size: 36½” x 41½” / 93cm x 105cm
Year of creation: c. 1845
Labels & Inscriptions: Label on reverse with inscription.
Provenance: Private collection, England.
Condition: Artwork presents well. Fine craquelure but the paint is stable. Frame with some light wear.

Conservation & History

We care profoundly about our role as custodians and every piece in the collection has been assessed by our conservator. When required, we undertake professional restoration carefully using reversible techniques and adopt a light touch to retain the aged charm of each work. We also restore frames rather than replace them as many are original and selected by the artists themselves.

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