Portrait of John Hancock

about 1819-1877
Charles Hancock

Portrait of John Hancock by Charles Hancock, oil on canvas . John Hancock is depicted dressed in black standing full-length next to a table draped with a green cloth. There is a dark red curtain in the background on the right. His left hand rests on a paper on the table, which also holds two inkwells with a pen and a beige book. He holds a pen in his right hand down by his side. The painting is in an ornate, rectangular gilt frame. A metal plaque on the frame immediately beneath the painting reads ‘JOHN HANCOCK. BORN 1788. DIED MCH 1835.’ This was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1819.

John Hancock (1788-1835) was the son of James Hancock, a cabinetmaker, and Betty Hancock (nee Coleman). He was a member of the Hancock family of Marlborough, England. The Hancocks were a significant British family in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, known for their contributions to science, art, and industry.

John Hancock is best known for working alongside his older brother Thomas Hancock at the family coach-making business, ‘Hancock and Co., Patent whalebone Coach-makers’. In later life, he moved to Cornwall to work with Humphry Davy, a chemist, on developing a safety fuse for tin miners. After his death in 1835, his nine children returned to London to live in the care of his brother Thomas.

This portrait was painted by Charles Hancock (1800-1877), John Hancock’s brother. Charles was a painter and inventor who had 25 paintings displayed at the Royal Academy.

This object is part of a collection relating to the Hancock family, acquired in 2018 from a descendant and family historian of the Hancocks. The collection comprises portraits covering 4 generations of the Hancock family (including 7 painted by Charles Hancock), personal and business archives, and a series of related objects. John Hancock’s brother Thomas is the centre of the story – inventor of the patent masticator and founder of the British rubber industry. The Hancock company ran until the 1930s, led by Thomas’s nephew and assistant, James Lyne Hancock, and then a great nephew John Hancock Nunn.


Object Number:
gold plated (gilded), paint and wood (unidentified)