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Hugh Belsey

(b London, Jan 31, 1734; d Aleppo, Turkey [now in Syria], ?July 1786).

English painter, active in India. Following a varied training at Shipley’s, St Martin’s Lane, and the Duke of Richmond’s Academies, he painted portraits, reminiscent of Reynolds’s, in Oxford and the Midlands. His most ambitious portrait, stylistically similar to the work of Francis Cotes, is Lady Frances Harpur and her Son Henry (c. 1766–7; Calke Abbey, Derbys, NT). Kettle travelled to India in 1768, probably at the suggestion of Admiral Sir Samuel Cornish, who sat for him with Thomas Parry and Rear-Admiral Sir Richard Kempenfeldt in the same year (priv. col., see Milner, pl. xxi).

Kettle was one of the earliest British artists to search for a career in India. He established particularly good relations with the indigenous nobility; in Madras (1769–71) he painted the Nawab of Arcot, Muhammad ‘Ali Khan, and also native genre subjects. In 1772 he travelled to the court of the Nawab of Avadh (Oudh), Shuja‘ al-Daula, at Faizabad and painted a series of canvases, most notably the ...