Sir John Bowring

Portrait of Sir John Bowring by H. Brice, c. 1860. Bowring is portrayed in half-length, seated facing almost profile to his right side. He wears a dark coat, white shirt and necktie tied in a large bow.

Born in the Exeter area in 1792, Sir John Bowring was a political economist who was also the Fourth Governor of Hong Kong (1854-1859). Bowing was born in Larkbeare House, Exeter, whose family were textile merchants. He was known as a hyperpolygot, as he knew two-hundred languages, and could speak one-hundred. He became editor of the ‘Westminster Review’ in 1825, and ten years later became an MP. He gained reputation from his diplomatic trips to the continent. In 1849, Bowring was appointed British Consul in Canton (Guangzhou), and became superintendent of trade in China. As Governor of Hong Kong, he was partly involved and responsible for the hostilities of the Second Opium War (1856-1860).

During his time in the Far East, he collected items, many of which later donated to RAMM. Sir John Bowring died near Exeter on 23rd November 1872.

Henry Brice (c. 1831-1903) was a local Devon artist, who depicted many notable local individuals in his portraiture.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
Fine Art
Collection Class
oil on canvas
Common Name
Sir John Bowring
Simple Name
Period Classification
Victorian (1837-1901)
Production Country
United Kingdom: England
Production Date
c 1860
Production Person Initials
Production Person Surname
Production Year Low
Production Year High

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Sir John Bowring