Portrait of William Hancock
- about 1819-1877
- Charles Hancock
Portrait of William Hancock by Charles Hancock, oil on canvas . William Hancock is depicted seated half length. He wears a black coat and his left arm rests on a raised object, possibly the back of a chair. The background is a gradient of black to brown. The painting is in a rectangular frame of walnut wood with a gilt beading inner. A plaque beneath the painting reads ‘WILLIAM HANCOCK. BORN JULY 1788’.
William Hancock (1789-1848) 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.
William Hancock was a cabinetmaker. He set up his cabinet-making and upholstery business in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in 1815. He is best known for making an elm cabinet of ‘superior beauty’ which was presented to George IV in 1825, and remains at Buckingham Palace, and allegedly having made the first set of inflatable rubber cushions for the Houses of Parliament between 1834 and 1840.
This portrait was painted by Charles Hancock (1800-1877), William 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. William 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.