STANLEY, Henry Morton. MOSCHELES, Felix. Oil on canvas portrait, c. 562 x 419mm. Signed, dated and inscribed in lower right corner Henry M Stanley / by Moscheles / 85 framed with brass label.
It is interesting that the painter Moscheles (godson of the composer Felix Mendelssohn), a peace activist and internationalist, painted the 'imperialist' explorer of Africa Henry Morton Stanley. The sitter however, is a more than complex person. Born 'John Rowlands' on the 28 January 1841 in Denbigh, North Wales, his mother was Elizabeth Parry, a 19 year old housemaid; his father was (possibly) John Rowlands. At the age of six the illegitimate boy was sent to the local Workhouse, having been abandoned by his He remained in the workhouse for nine years. At seventeen he signed on as a cabin boy on a ship bound for America. In New Orleans he jumped ship, having been badly treated on the voyage. During the American civil war he enlisted in the Dixie Grays and went on to fight on both sides, narrowly escaping death on the battlefield. Stanley became a journalist in both the US and Britain (he had dual citizenship) before embarking on his career of exploring Sub-Saharan Africa.
Provenance: After his marriage to Dorothy ('Dolly') Tennant Stanley decided that the couple must have a country home, and 'plunged into house hunting with something of his old vigor' (Bierman, Dark Safari, p. 350). After considering 57 properties Stanley decided to leave his Sackville Street flat for Furze Hill, a mock Tudor manor some 30 miles outside the capital. He had it modernised and extensively renovated and electrified. The house was then filled with personal memorabilia, Africana, and portraits of fellow explorers of the 'dark' continent. The National Portrait Gallery, London, has a photographic portrait of Stanley, taken on June 16, 1890, at Haddo House.