A cabinet card portrait of the British explorer, hunter and conservationist Frederick Courteney Selous, famous for his exploits in South and East Africa. His real life adventures inspired Rider Haggard to create the character of Allan Quartermain. He was also a good friend of Cecil Rhodes and Theodore Roosevelt.
Selous was killed by a German sniper in 1917, while fighting in East Africa. On hearing the news, Roosevelt wrote: ‘He led a singularly adventurous and fascinating life, with just the right alternations between the wilderness and civilization. He helped spread the borders of his people's land. He added much to the sum of human knowledge and interest. He closed his life exactly as such a life ought to be closed, by dying in battle for his country while rendering her valiant and effective service. Who could wish a better life or a better death, or desire to leave a more honourable heritage to his family and his nation?’
Two years later the English travel writer ‘Johnny’ Millais wrote: ‘If there was one striking feature in his physiognomy it was his wonderful eyes, as clear and as blue as the summer sea. Nearly every one who came in contact with him noticed his eyes. They were the eyes of the man who looks into the beyond vast spaces. Instinctively one saw in them the hunter and the man of wide views. In social intercourse Selous had a presence that was apt to make other people look insignificant. He was adored by all his friends, and even perfect strangers seemed to come under his magnetism at the first introduction.’
Photographed by Elliott and Fry of 55, Baker Street, London.
In 1863, the photographer Joseph John Elliott (1835-1903) and the entrepreneur Clarence Edmund Fry (1840-1897) founded a successful photographic business which was to continue long after their deaths. In 1965 Elliott and Fry amalgamated with Bassano and Vandyck.
The sitter’s autograph on a separate piece of paper has been pasted to the lower left-hand corner of the cabinet card.
condition: The print presents a small amount of fine spotting, most of it peripheral, but is otherwise in excellent condition. Barring a few small marks, the mount is also in excellent condition. The piece of paper bearing the sitter’s signature is quite badly foxed.
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