The Money Brothers: William Taylor, 1769-1834, James, 1772-1833, and Robert, 1775-1803

A group portrait of three sons of William Money (1738-96), a Director of the East India Company and an Elder Brother of Trinity House, commissioned by Sir Robert Wigram Bt (1769-1830), Money's lifelong friend and business partner [ ref. Christies, London 10 June 2003, British and Victorian Pictures, lot 43: portrait of Wigram by Lawrence].

The central figure, William Taylor is shown in three-quarter length, slightly to right, looking towards the viewer. He wears the uniform of a lieutenant of the East India Company marine service. He was the eldest son and had his first East India commission as a lieutenant in the Rose in 1786. In 1793 he became commander of Wigram's ship, the 'General Goddard', taking her on a particularly successful initial voyage and later commanded other Wigram ships including the 'Walthamstow'. On his retirement from sea in 1801 he became Marine Superintendent at Bombay. From 1811 he was a director of the Company, an elder brother of Trinity House and an MP. He was also knighted and died as Consul General at Venice in 1834.

His right arm rests on the shoulder of his brother Robert, who stands to the left and is shown half-length, to right, wearing a red coat. He is in profile looking at his eldest brother and pointing with his right hand to a map of China at the place marked Canton.

James, the right hand figure, holds the other end of the map with his right forefinger placed on Calcutta. He wears a brown coat, a white waistcoat and yellow breeches. Like his elder brother, his hair is powdered. Through a window behind him the Indiaman 'Rose' is shown at anchor.

James and Robert both spent their lives in the civil branch of the Company's service, with Robert serving in China. The appearance of the sitters implies that the portrait was begun in 1788 and, indeed, Robert (the youngest) points to China, where William Taylor went on a voyage during 1786-88. William Taylor sat for the artist in 1788 and 1790-91. James points to the Bay of Bengal, which may signify that he accompanied his elder brother on the 1788-90 voyage, at the start of his service with the Company.

The Honourable Company of London Merchants Trading with the East Indies was formed in 1600 and it soon became known by the shorter title of the Honourable East India Company. The company grew rich and powerful on the trade in cottons, silks, spices and tea, and kept its monopoly for over 200 years. Britain's large land-based Indian Empire had its beginnings in this early maritime trading venture.

Rigaud was born in Turin. He studied in Turin, Florence and Bologna, and lived in Rome for two years from 1768. In 1771 he settled in London, becoming an Associate of the Royal Academy in the following year and a full Academician in 1784. He received a steady stream of commissions for historical subjects, as well as decorative compositions and portraits. Rigaud was one of the major painters of large-scale decorative schemes for fashionable interiors of the late 18th century. As a portrait artist, he could be frank and expressive when not seeking heroic effects. This painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1792.

Object Details

ID: BHC2866
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Display - QH
Creator: Rigaud, John Francis
Date made: 1788-1792; 1788-92
Exhibition: Traders: The East India Company and Asia
People: Money, Robert; Money, William Taylor Money, James
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Painting: 1016 mm x 1270 mm; Frame: 1101 mm x 1340 mm x 83 mm; Overall: 26.6 kg

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