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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

John Lort Stokes clocked up thousands of nautical miles during his seventeen years as a hydrographer aboard HMS Beagle. An intimate memento of his lovely but distant wife kept him company.

1Fanny Jane Marlay, c. 1841. 2Captain John Lort Stokes, c. 1841. Both an unknown artist.

John Lort Stokes took part in three major voyages aboard HMS Beagle between 1826 and 1843, after being assigned to the ship at age thirteen. He charted Australian coasts and waters on the third, meeting Fanny Jane Marlay in Sydney in 1838. They married in January 1841, and Stokes – now in command of the Beagle – set off on another voyage later that year, taking a portrait of Fanny with him. Lady Franklin saw it when the ship was in Hobart, noting that it ‘adorns the cabin’. He was at sea when Fanny gave birth to their daughter in February 1842. They lived in England for a few years until Stokes was made captain of the Acheron and instructed to undertake a survey of New Zealand. Fanny died in South Africa in 1848. Despite Stokes eventually remarrying, the portrait of Fanny stayed in his possession until his own death in 1885.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.