All pictures by Fabiënne Tetteroo, taken 25th September 2022
After revealing the name of James Fitzjames’ father in his 2010 book, William Battersby found out that somebody he knew was a descendant of James Gambier and that her family even had a portrait of him. However, all knowledge of their relation to Fitzjames had vanished over the years. Battersby went down to Smedmore House on the Dorset coast to see the portrait and he published a picture he took on his website. His picture does not show the entire painting, and there appeared to be a flash or discolouration. When Smedmore House had its yearly open day, I took the opportunity to see the portrait of James Gambier for myself.
Many thanks to Sylvia Wright for being kind enough to drive me there and for the lovely time, and thanks to the owner of the house Philip Mansel for his hospitality and for letting me take my pictures before the crowds arrived.
Sir James Gambier’s portrait is located in the dining room of Smedmore House:
The portrait was painted by Italian artist Domenico Pellegrini (1759-1840), who was working in Lisbon during the time Sir James Gambier was British Consul there.
How did this portrait end up at Smedmore House? It was thanks to Sir James’ granddaughter by his son William (1802-1860), Jemima Henrietta (1827-1896), who married into the Mansel family that owns the house to this day. According to information at Smedmore House, the occasion of the portrait was Gambier’s role in the Battle of Trafalgar (21st October 1805). He had played an important part in forwarding despatches to London.
Because there is some discolouration in the painting I decided to digitally restore it so that the original state may be seen:
He appears to have light brown hair and in the painting one eye is green and the other is blue. This could be another discolouration, or he had heterochromia which is quite rare. He in any case does not have brown eyes.
In October 1805 James Gambier was 33 years old, about the same age his son James Fitzjames was when he sat for his Daguerreotype portrait in 1845.
The resemblance between father and son is striking: