Peter Still was personal solicitor to George III and had a thriving London legal business based at New Square, Lincolns Inn. He was a direct ancestor of the famous late 16th century Bishop of Bath & Wells, John Still and perhaps showing similar resolute qualities as his illustrious forbear, he founded what was to become the hugely successful legal practice Trower, Still and Keeling. He resided in Harley Street in central London and despite little being known about his wife he had a daughter Marian, who married in May 1827 Lt-Colonel Alexander Wilton Dashwood.
John Jackson was a portraitist of some considerable talent who was unfortunate enough to be practicing at the time of Sir Thomas Lawrence and therefore was forever to be in his shadow. However Lawrence, as President of the Royal Academy, proclaimed in 1827 of Jacksons portrait of John Flaxman, that it was a grand achievement of the English school, and a picture which Vandyke might have felt proud to be the author. This was an accolade indeed having already astonished Canova in Rome with his portrait of the sculptor which led to his membership of the Accademia di San Luca, Rome. He established a successful practice in London with both artists, professionals and Royalty sitting for him; he was elected to the Royal Academy in 1817 and exhibited regularly throughout his life.
This portrait of Peter Still shows all the hallmarks of Jacksons mature style. Confident, yet subtle, particularly with the flesh tones, the palette displays many influences of the Italian Old Masters he observed during his European sojourns. This approach not surprisingly comes close to the work of Lawrence, and at his best, as demonstrated here, he clearly manages to be his equal. Jacksons work is well represented in London at the National Portrait Gallery and Tate Britain and in the U.S.A. at Yale.
Royal Academy 1826 probably No. 207
Statements of Self-Importance – The Portrait in Europe 1660-1950, Langston Gallery, London, 2009