Self-portrait of Charles Hancock

about 1819-1877
Charles Hancock

Self-portrait of Charles Hancock, oil on canvas. Charles Hancock is depicted half length, dressed in black. He sits on a dark red chair in front of a dark background. His right arm leans on the arm of the chair and he holds a pen in his hand. His left hand is crossed over the right, and holds a piece of paper. The painting is in an ornate gilt frame. A metal plaque on the frame immediately beneath the painting mislabels it as being of Thomas Hancock.

Charles Hancock (1800-1877) 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.

Charles Hancock was an inventor and a painter known for his invention of ‘scentless watercolours’ in patent rubber bottles, and his paintings of animals, particularly horses. By the age of 19, Charles’ portrait of his father, James Hancock, had been displayed in the Royal Academy. He later became known as a talented painter of horses, and for a number of years was commissioned to paint Derby winners. He exhibited at the Royal Academy with 25 pictures.

He later worked with the Gutta Percha Company, and by 1850 had set up the competing West Ham Gutta Percha Company with his brother Walter.

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. Charles 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)