Oil painting on canvas, John William Spencer Brownlow Egerton Cust, 2nd Earl Brownlow (1842-1867) by George Frederick Watts, OM, RA, (London 1817 - Compton 1904), signed and inscribed lower right: Lord Brownlow / G F Watts. A half-length portrait of a bearded man wearing a black coat and white shirt. It was shown at The Royal Academy 1905 (208) at artist's posthumous exhibition.
The sitter was the son of John Hume Egerton, Viscount Alford (1812-51) and Lady Marianne Margaret Compton (1817-88), daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Northampton. His original name was John William Spencer Brownlow Cust. He succeeded his grandfather as Earl Brownlow in 1853 and he changed his name to John William Spencer Brownlow Egerton and in 1863 he changed his name again to John William Spencer Brownlow Egerton-Cust. He was educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford. He was consumptive, and regularly went south with his mother, in search of better health. Her artistic bent may also have encouraged him to become an early practitioner of photography. He and his mother patronised the working-class Christian Socialist poet, Gerald Massey (1838-1907), and provided him with a house, Ward’s Hurst, on the Ashridge Estate. He died unmarried at Mentone, to which he had gone, like so many British, for the sake of his health, in February 1867. Massey wrote a threnody, In Memory of...Earl Brownlow, which was privately printed in 1869. He was succeeded, as 3rd Earl, by his robuster younger brother Adelbert Wellington Brownlow Cust (1844-1921), who married Lady Adelaide Talbot (1844/5-1917).
Purchased with a grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) from Edward John Peregrine Cust, 7th Baron Brownlow, C. St J. (b.1936) in 1984
Belton House, The Brownlow Collection (acquired with the help of the National Heritage Memorial Fund by the National Trust in 1984)
Makers and roles
George Frederic Watts, OM, RA (London 1817 - Compton 1904), artist