The Royal Court houses an impressive range of paintings, one of Her Majesty the Queen, many of Bailiffs of Guernsey, some of Jurats of the Royal Court and a particularly notable harbour scene painting by Thomas Whitcombe.
Guernsey is a Crown Dependency and Guernsey folk are subjects of Her Majesty. It is therefore a great privilege of the Royal Court to display a portrait of Her Majesty the Queen in the Royal Court Chamber, which serves as Guernsey's parliamentary chamber, as well as the principal Court room for civil litigation and ceremonial occasions. The portrait, by June Mendoza PR ROI was commissioned by the States of Guernsey in 1987 and completed in 1988. It celebrates immense respect and affection of Islanders for Her Majesty, who first visited the Island in 1949, when Princess Elizabeth. Since her accession to the throne, she has subsequently visited the Island in 1957, 1978, 1989, 2001 and 2005.
The Royal Court holds nineteen portraits of former Bailiffs. In former times they were commissioned and presented to the Court by family or friends of a retired Bailiff, but for almost a century they have been commissioned by the States of Guernsey. Two artists have painted more than one portrait. Three of the portraits of former Bailiffs were painted by Mary MacLeod. She painted the portrait of Bailiffs Sir Henry Alexander Giffard, Kt, Bailiff of Guernsey 1902 to 1908, Sir Edward Chepmell Ozanne, KBE, 1915-1922, and Sir Havilland Walter de Sausmarez, Bt, 1922-1929.
Hung in the Royal Court Chamber is a portrait of Major General Sir Isaac Brock, a Guernseyman who led the British Army in Upper Canada in the 1812-14 War against the United States of America. He died on 13th October 1812 leading his troops on the battlefield at Queenston Heights, Ontario, near to Niagara Falls. His immortal memory is revered by Canadians as the Saviour of Upper Canada. The Bi-centenary of his death will be commemorated in some style in 2012 in both Guernsey and Ontario. (There are two further portraits of Sir Isaac Brock, owned by the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery).
The Royal Court painting of Sir Isaac Brock was, albeit some 70 years after Brock's death, commissioned by the States of Guernsey and painted by Canadian portrait artist John Wycliffe Forster (1850-1938). John Wycliffe Forster was an internationally renowned artist who painted over 500 portraits of leading historical figures, including many from Canada.
His brother, Daniel De Lisle Brock, is revered in Guernsey as a most distinguished Bailiff, serving in office between 1821 and 1842. His painting is also hung in the Royal Court Chamber.
Another notable painting in the Royal Court collection is that painted by Thomas Whitcombe (1760-1824), a notable painter of maritime scenes. It is a view of Castle Cornet viewed across a busy St Peter Port Harbour. The Whitcombe painting has, since being gifted to the Royal Court, been displayed in the Bailiff's office, which is a large imposing room used for civic receptions.
Thomas Whitcombe was the leading naval painter of the Napoleonic wars. He painted over 150 actions, including 50 plates for the Naval Achievements of Great Britain. His works can be found at The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and in naval collections around the world. Whitcombe spent considerable time, in both 1784 and 1813, in Guernsey. It is known that he painted some ten canvases or so whilst in Guernsey. He would paint Castle Cornet and some sea and sky initially onto a canvas before encouraging the captain of a recently arrived ship of the Royal Navy to commission him to complete the painting by including the captain's ship. The one in the Bailiff's office is probably the largest in size of the paintings in Guernsey.
The Whitcombe painting, a family heirloom, was presented to the Royal Court in memory of Sir William Carey, Bailiff of Guernsey 1908-1915 by his son, Advocate Alan de Jersey Carey.