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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 46.djvu/198

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In 1811 he revisited Russia, and on 7 Feb. 1812 he triumphantly married his Russian princess. He was subsequently received in Russian military and diplomatic circles, and became well acquainted with the Russian version of the events of 1812–13, of which he gave a graphic account in his ‘Narrative of the Campaign in Russia during 1812.’ He had returned to England previous to the appearance of his book, and was on 2 April 1813 knighted by the prince-regent. He was soon abroad again, and in August 1817 he started from St. Petersburg upon an extended course of travel, proceeding through the Caucasus to Teheran, thence southwards by Ispahan to the site of the ancient Persepolis, where he made many valuable drawings and transcribed a number of cuneiform inscriptions. After some stay at Shiraz, he retraced his steps to Ispahan, and proceeded to Ecbatana and Bagdad; and then, following the course of Xenophon's Katabasis, to Scutari. He published the records of this long journey in his ‘Travels in Georgia, Persia, Armenia, Ancient Babylonia, 1817–1820,’ 2 vols. 4to, 1821. This huge book, which is full of interest and is a great advance upon his previous volumes of travel, was illustrated by bold drawings of mountain scenery, of works of art, and antiquities. A large number of Porter's original sketches are now preserved in the British Museum, to which they were presented by the author's sister Jane. At Teheran Porter had an interview with the Persian monarch Futteh Ali Shah, whose portrait he drew, and from whose hands in 1819 he received the insignia of the order of the Lion and the Sun. After returning to England, he soon left again for Russia, but in 1826 he was appointed British consul in Venezuela. During the fifteen years that he held that position he resided at Caracas, where he kept up an extensive hospitality, and became well known and popular. He continued to employ his pencil, and painted several large sacred pieces, including ‘Christ instituting the Eucharist,’ ‘Christ healing a Little Child,’ ‘Ecce Homo,’ and ‘St. John writing the Apocalypse.’ He also painted a portrait of Simon Bolivar, the founder of the republic of Columbia.

In 1832, in recognition of the benefits he had conferred upon the protestant community of Caracas, he was created a knight-commander of the order of Hanover. He returned to England in 1841. His wife had died at St. Petersburg, of typhus fever, on 27 Sept. 1826; but his only daughter was still living in the Russian capital, having in 1837 become the wife of M. Kikine, an officer in the Russian army. After a short stay with his brother, Dr. William Ogilvie Porter, at Bristol, he went on a visit to Madame Kikine. On 3 May 1842 he wrote from St. Petersburg to his brother that he was on the eve of sailing for England; but he died suddenly of apoplexy as he was returning in his drosky from a farewell visit to the czar Alexander I on the following day. He was buried in St. Petersburg, a monument being also erected to his memory in Bristol Cathedral. Owing to his large expenditure his affairs were left in some disorder, but his estate was finally wound up in August 1844 by his executrix, Jane Porter, who speaks of him with the greatest affection as her ‘beloved and protecting brother.’ His books, engravings, and antiquities were sold at Christie's on 30 March 1843. His drawings included twenty-six illustrations to the odes of Anacreon, a large panoramic view of Caracas, and a very interesting sketch-book (forty-two drawings) of Sir John Moore's campaigns, which was presented by his sister to the British Museum. In the print-room there are several other drawings by Porter, and two fine portraits—a mezzotint by W. O. Burgess, after G. Harlowe, in which is depicted a handsome man in a Russian diplomatic uniform lined with fur; and an engraving by Anthony Carden, after J. Wright.

A man of the most varied attainments, Porter was justly described as ‘distinguished alike in arts, in diplomacy, in war, and in literature.’ He was a splendid horseman, excelled in field sports, and possessed the art of ingratiating himself with people of every rank in life. Unlike some popular favourites, he was the idol of his own domestic circle.

[Porter's Works in the British Museum Library, where are also the descriptive sketches of several of his pictures, including ‘Seringapatam,’ the ‘Siege of Acre,’ and the ‘Battle of Alexandria;’ Gent. Mag. 1842, ii. 98–9; Annual Register, 1842, p. 267; Times, 28 May 1842; Bristol Mercury, 21 May 1842; Athenæum, 1850, p. 355; Art Journal, 1850, p, 276; Dibdin's Reminiscences of a Literary Life, ii. 143 sq.; Hall's Memories, p. 128; Roget's ‘Old’ Water-colour Society; Chambers's Book of Days; Biographical Dictionary of Living Authors, 1816, p. 281; the Pantheon of the Age; Michaud's Biographie Universelle; Redgrave's Dict. of English Artists; Bryan's Dict. of Painters and Engravers; Allibone's Dict. of Engl. Literature; Journal of the Society of Arts, 2 Aug. 1895; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. v. 185, viii. 364, 526, 576, 4th ser. xi. 177, 5th ser. iv. 370, v. 16, 6th ser. xi. 330, 7th ser. vii. 312; Memorial to the Porter Family in Bristol Cathedral; Ker Porter Correspondence in the library of Sir Thomas Phillipps at Thirlestane House, Cheltenham.]

T. S.