Tilly Kettle (1735-86)
Tilly Kettle was the first Western artist to establish a portrait practice in India...
Since the early twentieth century the subject of this portrait has been identified as a ‘Captain Bryce’, although specific details regarding his identity remain unknown. His identification is made more problematic by the fact he is shown wearing civilian not military attire, which although is not uncommon for Kettle, certainly makes the process more difficult. We do know that there were two Captain Brices serving in the London regiment, 7th Regiment of Foot or Royal Fusiliers, who could have commissioned Kettle before his journey to India. Edward Brice Dobbs was made a captain on 26th May 1759 and Arthur Hill Brice was made a captain on 13th February 1762.
Tilly Kettle was the first Western artist to establish a portrait practice in India. Arriving at
When Kettle eventually returned to England in 1776, he had earned a considerable fortune, and it was his success in India that encouraged other artists of merit - from Zoffany to Chinnery - to undertake the same long voyage. However, Kettle was not able to sustain the busy portrait practice in
In 1786 Kettle decided to return to India, this time travelling over land. However, he never reached his second home and is thought to have died en route, perhaps in present-day Basra. His work can today be found in institutions such as the Tate Gallery, the Courtauld Collection and the Dulwich Picture Gallery.
 See for example Kettle’s double portrait of Charles and Captain John Sealy [Courtauld Gallery] which illustrates the naval captain in a light grey civilian suit.