The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

Portrait of Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles

National Museum of Singapore - Joy of Museums - Portrait of Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles

This “Portrait of Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles” depicts Raffles as youthful and knowledgeable, surrounded by symbols of his scholarly work. He was an amateur writer and wrote “The History of Java” in 1817. He is shown with a manuscript in his hand sitting at his writing desk with sculptures from Java, where he contributed to the expansion of the British Empire.

Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (1781 – 1826) was a British statesman, Lieutenant-Governor of British Java and Governor-General of Bencoolen, a British possession in Sumatra based in the area of what is now Bengkulu City. He is best known for his founding of Singapore.

Raffles founded colonial Singapore in 1819 as a trading post of the East India Company. After the collapse of the Company and the establishment of the British Raj, the islands were ceded to Britain and became part of its Straits Settlements in 1826. While in Singapore, Raffles established schools and churches. He allowed missionaries and local businesses to flourish. A European town was built to segregate the population, separated by a river. He oversaw the building of roads and a military garrison constructed for the soldiers. He oversaw the development of a thriving commercial port for the British.

National Museum of Singapore - Joy of Museums - Portrait of Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles 2

Closeup of the youthful-looking Stamford Raffles portrait

The original version of this painting was painted by George Francis Joseph (1764-1846) after Raffles returned to England from Java in 1816. This version is a copy by John Adamson.

Among the many historical and cultural objects in the National Museum of Singapore the following are highlights:

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                 Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles
  • Artist:               John Adamson, after George Francis Joseph
  • Date:                1817
  • Material:          Oil on Canvas
  • Dimensions:    55 in. x 43 in. (1397 mm x 1092 mm)
  • Museum:          National Museum of Singapore


“A given excuse that was not asked for, implies guilt.” Singaporean / Malay Proverb



Photo Credit: By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons