[ Sir William Boxall RA, Director of the National Gallery. ] Autograph Letter Signed ('W Boxall'), regarding painting a portrait of the wife of either Sir W. J. Hooker or his son Sir J. D. Hooker, successively Directors, Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew.

Sir William Boxall RA (1800-1879), English artist and Director of the National Gallery, London [ Sir William Jackson Hooker and Sir Joseph Hooker, Directors of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew ]
Publication details: 
14 Welbeck Street [ London ]. 'Monday' [no date].
SKU: 20610

4pp., 12mo. Bifolium. In fair condition, lightly aged, with some damage ay foot of reverse of second leaf (not affecting signature) caused by removal from mount. The letter presumably dates from before Boxall's appointment as Director of the National Gallery in 1866, when he all but gave up painting. It is addressed to 'Dr. Hooker', and the recipient is either Sir William Jackson Hooker (1785-1865) or his son Sir Joseph Hooker (1817-1911), successively Directors of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. The son is the more likely recipient, as the father had been knighted in 1836, and thereafter would not have been addressed as 'Dr. Hooker'. In 1851 the son married Frances Harriet Henslow (1825-1874), daughter of Darwin's mentor, John Stevens Henslow. No record of such a painting by Boxall has been discovered. Boxall begins the letter by stating that he feels sure Hooker will forgive him for 'apparent neglect', the real causes of his silence being indisposition and being 'so harassed with work that I had not strength to do that tho' I thought of you every day I never had courage to write to you'. It would give him great pleasure 'to do the best I could for you as to the portrait', but he is 'just at this time so occupied that I should do no justice to Mrs. Hooker to attempt to commence the picture at this moment'. As the Hookers leave England on holiday 'late in the autumn' he suggests doing the portrait 'later in the season'. He asks to be allowed to 'run down to Kew some fine afternoon if I know where to find you and talk to you about it.' In 1851 Hooker had married Frances Harriet Henslow (1825–1874), daughter of Darwin's mentor, John Stevens Henslow. The couple had seven children, and she assisted him with his publications.