Circle of George Romney (Beckside 1734-1802 Kendal)
Portrait of Sir Benjamin Truman, three-quarter-length, in a black coat, seated in a loggia, a park landscape beyond oil on canvas 127 x 101.8cm (50 x 40 1/16in).
PROVENANCE: Sale, Christie's London, 14 May 1982, lot 3 Sale, Sotheby's London, 1 July 2004, lot 124
EXHIBITED Los Angeles, Fisher Gallery, University of California, 1967
Sir Benjamin Truman (1699/17001780), entrepreneur and brewer, was born in Brick Lane, Spitalfields, London. On his father's death in 1721 he became a partner in the family brewing business, by 1743 becoming the sole partner responsible for management. Production at the Black Eagle Brewery rose from 55,500 barrels in 1750 to 83,000 in 1766, an output surpassed only by the Whitbread and Calvert breweries. At the time of his death the net assets of the firm were £171,900, compared with £23,300 in 1741. His personal estate was worth £180,000 and he had a further £160,000 capital in the business. Truman was knighted in 1760, on the accession of George III, in recognition of his standing in the London business community and for large loans to the crown. His portrait by Thomas Gainsborough is one of the largest and most powerful canvases that artist ever painted (Gainsborough was also commissioned to paint portraits of two of Truman's granddaughters and two great-grandsons). His career and character may be summed up in the words of advice he gave as an old man to his grandson: 'there can be no other way of raising a great fortune but by carrying on an extensive trade. I must tell you, young man, this is not to be obtained without spirret and great application.'