Richard Evelyn Fuller Maitland, Sir John Horner

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
Sir John Horner
? c.1920–25
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 71 cm, Overall width: 55.8 cm
Richard Evelyn Fuller Maitland (1855-1953)
Catalogue Number
  • Signed ‘REFM’


Sir John Francis Fortescue Horner, KCVO (1842–1927), was the son of the Reverend John Stuart Hippisley Horner and his wife, Sophia Dickinson. Schooled at Eton College, Horner went on to study at Balliol College, Oxford in 1861, where he was awarded a BA in 1866 and an MA in 1873. During this time, he also excelled at sport, playing first-class cricket for the MCC (Middlesex Cricket Club) and the Gentlemen of England. In 1868 he was called to the Bar, working as a barrister in London. Horner was appointed the High Sheriff of Somerset in 1885 and in 1895 became the Commissioner of Woods, Forests and Land Revenues, for which he was awarded a knighthood in 1907.

In 1883 Horner married Frances Graham (1854–1940), daughter of the Scottish politician, merchant and connoisseur William Graham. Frances was a celebrated hostess, patron of the arts and member of the elite social group the Souls. The couple had four children. Their elder son, Edward, died of wounds in the First World War and a memorial was erected to him in the church of St Andrew’s, Mells, where a painted window was installed in remembrance of Sir John’s son-in-law, Raymond Asquith, who also died in the First World War. Raymond Asquith, the present Earl of Oxford and Asquith, is the great-grandson of Sir John. 

The painter of the portrait was Richard Evelyn Fuller Maitland, son of the art collector and Liberal politician William Fuller Maitland (1884–1932), of Stansted Hall, Essex. William Maitland had inherited from his own father an important collection of early Italian paintings, nine of which he sold to the National Gallery, London, in 1878, including The Mystic Nativity by Sandro Botticelli. Educated at Harrow School, Richard Maitland went on to study at Sir Hubert Herkomer’s Art School, Bushey, Hertfordshire. He also pursued a part-time military career, gaining the rank of captain in the Scots Guards. Essentially a gentleman-artist, Maitland exhibited twice at the Royal Academy, in 1904 and in 1921, when he showed a portrait of a judge, Edwin Max Konstam. His known oeuvre is small and includes A Mediterranean Scene (Bushey Museum and Art Gallery, 2004.108.1), a portrait of Sir Frederick Liddell, First Parliamentary Counsel, dated 1913 (Government Art Collection, no. 1203) and two portraits of senior members of the Admiralty.1 Also in 1913, Magdalene College, Cambridge, commissioned a sketch from Maitland of Thomas Hardy, then aged seventy-two.2 The link between Sir John Horner and Maitland probably came via his father who, like Sir John, was a talented  cricketer and played alongside him for the MCC and the Gentleman of England. 

Maitland’s portrait can be compared to a snapshot taken by Lady Ottoline Morrell of the bearded Sir John seated at Mells in 1924 (National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG Ax141908), and was probably painted around the same time. Lady Ottoline, a friend of the Horners, also took snaps of other members of the family at this time, including his wife, Frances (NPG Ax141636), his daughter, Katharine, and son-in-law Raymond Asquith (NPG Ax140417).

by Martin Postle


  1. See Sir William Graham Green, Secretary of the Admiralty, and Sir Charles Inigo Thomas, Secretary of the Admiralty, Ministry of Defence Art Collection, London, Portraits, 1976, nos 4061 and 7959.

  2. Michael Millgate, ed., The Life and Work of Thomas Hardy by Thomas Hardy, Basingstoke and London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1984, p. 391. For Maitland’s sketch see Magdalene College, Cambridge, List 2002, E/P/18/47/34.


Related catalogue items from Mells Manor

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    The Presentation of the Virgin

    Domenico Beccafumi, 1540s

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    St John the Baptist

    Gian Martin Spanzotti

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    Portrait of an Unknown Man

    circle of John James Baker, c.1705–10