A collector and scholar, Raffles was a colonial administrator in South East Asia. In 1805 he was Assistant Secretary to the government of Penang, off the Malay coast. In 1811 he was made Lieutenant-Governor of Java following Britain's invasion. After introducing a series of laws to reform local customs, he was recalled in 1815 when the British returned Java to the Dutch. In 1819 he took over the governorship of Sumatra and acquired Singapore where, between 1822 and 1824, he oversaw the development of a thriving commercial port for the British.This portrait was painted when Raffles returned to Britain to oversee the publication of his History of Java (1817). The Buddhist sculptures and the distant landscape allude to his study of the ethnography, ancient civilisation and languages of the region.
Where to see this painting?
National Portrait Gallery, London
St Martin’s Place, London, Greater London, England, WC2H 0HE
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.