Colonel John Henderson of Foswell Bank, Perthshire and Port Henderson, Jamaica
oil on canvas, 29¼ x 24¼”
Exhibited: Royal Academy 1790 (number 210)
John Opie was commissioned to paint Colonel Henderson's portrait by Stirling City Council to commemorate Colonel Henderson being made a freeman of the City of Stirling and Dunfermline.
Subsequently the picture was exhibited at the Royal Academy, in 1790.
Colonel John Henderson acquired properties in Jamaica in the late Eighteenth Century and founded the town of Port Henderson. Being an entrepreneur, he proclaimed that the cold spring on his property had medicinal qualities and he subsequently applied to the House of Assembly to erect a public bath-house. From this, Port Henderson rapidly became a fashionable spa and health resort.
During his time in Jamaica he raised a regiment and received a commission through the Governor. He was made a Colonel in the Militia and upon receipt of a letter of marque he fitted out an armed cruiser and patrolled the Spanish Main.
No doubt the commission to paint this portrait was facilitated by Dr John Wolcot, Opie's tutor, manager and promoter (see WOLCOT portrait). Wolcot had at one time gone to Jamaica as the doctor in the party of Sir William Trelawney- and seized the opportunity to become ordained when a comfortable Jamaican church living was in prospect. While there, Wolcot lost no opportunity to make contacts which might be useful later. He would certainly have met Henderson.
Wolcot's formal business arrangement with Opie was terminated when Opie married Mary Bunn but Wolcot continued to act on Opie's behalf.