Given the fact that Henry Thoby Prinsep has appeared twice on these pages over the past few days, and that Nick referred to him as a “footnote in history with a weird name” (I’m not picking on you Nick!), it only seems right that I share some information on him.
Prinsep (1792 – 1878) was a civil servant that work for the British government in India and eventually served as a member of the important Council of India for sixteen years. As an obituary for his son, Val, noted, Prinsep was “one of the ablest of Indian Civil Servants of his time; he was Persian Secretary to the Government, and was in the confidence of many Viceroys” [ref].
In 1835, he married Sara Pattle (1816-1887) thus making him a brother-in-law to Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), who took the photo that started this. In the 1850s and 1860s Sara held a salon at their home in Kensington, which was frequented by significant individuals in the worlds of science, politics, literature and art. As was noted by a Mrs Stirling:
A breezy Bohemianism prevailed. That time of dread, the conventional Sunday of the early Victorian era, was exchanged for the wit of cynics, the dreams of the inspired, the thoughts of the profoundest thinkers of the age … Among the habitues of Little Holland House were Carlyle, with his rugged genius, Tennyson, Thackeray, Dickens, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Browning and a score of others whose names now enrich the sun of England’s greatness
Hallowed company indeed. This artistic community must have has an effect on Prinsep’s second (of three) son, Valentine, who went on to become a noted Pre-Raphelite painter.
(I still thing it’s a cool picture!)