Portrait of Lieutenant Rupert Farquhar, M.C., Grenadier Guards, 1915
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Overall: 76.2cm (30in) x 63.9cm (25.1in)
Provenance: Whiteway House, Chudleigh, Devon.
Redlynch House, Salisbury, Wiltshire.
Oil on canvas. Quarter length looking forward, the sitter in service dress uniform of the Grenadier Guards. Signed and dated lower right 'Leon Sprinck / 1915’ and inscribed verso ‘Lieut Rupert Farquhar / Grenadier Guards / Aged 18 / 1915 / Died in action / Sept 17th 1917’.
Lieutenant Rupert Farquhar, M.C., (1897-1917) was the younger son of Ernest Farquhar, banker, of 55, Eaton Square, London, and Whiteway House, Chudleigh, co. Devon, by his wife, Maria Theresa, daughter of Sir T. Villiers Lister, K.C.M.G. He was educated at Horton House school, Eton College and Sandhurst. He received a commission in July 1915 in the 4th Battalion, Grenadier Guards and served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from 8 August 1916. He took part in the Guards' attack on the Somme on 15 and 25 September and was mentioned in despatches by the Commander-in-Chief of the B.E.F., Sir Douglas Haig, for gallant and distinguished service in the field, and awarded the Military Cross (London Gazette, 14.11.1916). He died of wounds sustained under bombardment at Elverdingne on 17 September 1917, and is buried in Canada Farm Military Cemetery, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.
The artist Leon John Sprinck (1862-1948) was born in the Rue St Honoré, Paris, the son of the Russian court painter John Louis Sprinck (1825–1896) and his Danish wife, Marie Wilhelmina Orfa, who sang contralto prima donna in the St. Petersburg Opera. Leon began his art training in St. Petersburg, then Moscow, before continuing his studies in London under his émigré father in the mid 1880s. Leon and his parents initially earned a living by giving art classes to the bourgeoisie in Hampstead. Leon naturalised as a British citizen in 1898. Over time he established himself as a portrait painter notably in pastels as well as oils. In 1904 he received an important commission from the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon, for a portrait of Edward VII in Field Marshal’s uniform and the blue mantle and insignia of Order of the Star of India for the Government of India. Favourable reviews of his portraiture in West End galleries brought him a steady flow of commissions over the next two decades, including the Chief Guide Lady Baden-Powell (1912). Sprinck married in Hampstead Emilie Margaret Macdonald (1866–1949), a professional portrait miniaturist, with whom he shared interests in music and singing. Evidently a man of irredeemably high spirits he was twice fined by Chelsea magistrates in the 1930s for being drunk and incapable, stating in his defence, ’I am very sorry. I have been celebrating birthdays …’ He lived and worked for much of his career at 8 The Boltons Studios, Redcliffe Road, Kensington, and exhibited at the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours, and The Royal Academy.