Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Chatham

The following text is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977 (now out of print). For the most up to date research on the Collection, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text. This can be accessed by following the link with each portrait’s title.

In consulting the following, please note that apart from the reformatting which allows the printed catalogue to be made available on-line the text is as published in 1977. Footnotes in the original edition are given within square brackets.

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William Pitt
, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708-78)
‘The Great Commoner'. Statesman; in office 1746-55; paymaster-general of the forces, 1746, and minister at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War when he turned defeat at French hands into the victories of 1759; supported repeal of the Stamp Act; formed a short-lived ministry and created Earl, 1766; retired to Bath; disabled by gout, returned, 1778, to the Lords and collapsed speaking in the celebrated debate on American independence; died a few weeks later at his house at Hayes.

1050
From the studio of William Hoare, c.1754
Oil on canvas, 49 3/4 x 39 3/4 in. (1264 x 1010 mm); grey eyes, aquiline nose, fresh complexion, a mole faintly visible on his left eyebrow, grey wig falling behind shoulders; rich brown velvet suit, white cravat, shirt and wrist ruffles; on the table an inkstand, pen and papers, a letter in his right hand addressed To/ The Right Hon:ble W. . . . . .sq, the name obscured by the fingers; brown interior background; lit from left.

A popular portrait apparently repeated several times by the artist, no doubt with studio assistance. No known version seems to allow for the sitter's advancing age, nor is any clearly pre-eminent in quality. Letters dated from Bath 8 April and 3 May 1754 to Richard, 2nd Earl Temple, [1] imply that Chatham sat to Hoare in that year: 'I have reconsidered Mr Hoare's labours of yesterday', he writes on 3 May, 'and I find it the very best thing he has yet done, in point of likeness.' This does not necessarily mean a portrait of Chatham himself, but, on the other hand, the date would coincide with his engagement and a possible commission for his future brother-in-law—Chatham married Temple's sister Hester Grenville [2] on 15 November. The Temple picture, sold from Stowe in 1848 [3] and now in the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, is inscribed top right with the sitter's name and a date which has been read as 1756, but may be 1754. R. Houston's half-length mezzotint published in 1766 . . . from an Original Picture in the Possession of Earl Temple, with Chatham in a flowered damask coat and the stoop less pronounced, does not correspond with the Pittsburgh oil. This might argue the existence of another portrait now lost. Chaloner Smith treats the engraving (CS 94) as after Hoare; the type is very close but no artist's name is mentioned.

Further versions of NPG 1050, the first six, three-quarter length, are: (1) a portrait in the collection of the late Sir Edward O'Bryen Hoare, 7th Bart which, after cleaning in 1971, proved to be better than NPG 1050 and nearer the pattern, see (8); presumably retained by the sitter and descended through the 2nd Earl of Chatham (dsp 1835) to Major William Stanhope Taylor who married, 1824, Lady Sarah O'Brien, daughter of the 2nd Marquess of Thomond, great-grandfather of Sir Edward; (2) North Carolina Museum of Art, from the collection of William Pitt the younger's tutor, George Pretyman Tomline (1750-1827) of Orwell Park, with Colnaghi’s 1937; (3) private collection, with Spink 1947, [4] from the Rosebery sale, Christie's, 5 May 1939, lot 58; (4) Duke of Buccleuch, Drumlanrig; (5) Toronto, private collection, 1936; (6) signed and dated 1771, with the 4th Earl of Bristol presenting Lord Hervey, as a midshipman, to Chatham, [5] sold with a number of Bristol family portraits, Christie's, 16 June 1950, lot 149 'Property of a Lady'; (7) signed half length without hands, the Department of the Environment; [6] (8) head, in chalks, inscribed Wm Hoare/ delt., collection Nina, Lady Hoare, possibly a studio pattern drawing—a drawing in chalks 'manifestly like' was seen by Farington in the house of Prince Hoare, the artist's son, 1809; [7] (9) a similar oil at Hagley. [8]

The fine whole length in peer's parliamentary robes presented to the City of Bath, 1766, [9] was probably the result of second sittings at their behest. At Burton Pynsent, [10] according to correspondence descended to Sir Timothy Hoare, Bart, a similar portrait is known to have been severely damaged by damp. A replacement, referred to in the letters as taken from the 1765 (sic) portrait and painted in 1772, was at Sotheby's, 24 November 1965, with a companion whole length of Lady Chatham, lots 82 and 83, from the collection of the Hon. Mrs Sedley Barnes, the purchaser at the Butleigh Court sale. Presented to Lord Glastonbury by the 2nd Earl of Chatham, they are of disappointing quality. [11] ‘Signatures' added about 1910 by A. Jones of Bath were removed c.1972. The pictures now belong to the Department of the Environment (Home Office).

Condition: a retouching extends along his right nostril, across the edge of his right cheek and into the background; cleaned and restored 1896 and 1970.

Collections: purchased, 1896, from the 1st Viscount Bridport, through Colnaghi's; in the possession of the 2nd Lord Bridport by 1832; at Christie's, 7 July 1894, lot 99, and 13 July 1896, lot 38, on both occasions bought in. The first wife of the 1st Lord Bridport was the daughter of a Temple and only 'lack of means', it was said, prevented her marriage to Chatham. [12]

Engraved: the type engraved by Richard Houston (CS 92) apparently before December 1756, since the second state is lettered One of His Majesty's Principal Secretaries of State—an office the sitter held from December 1756 to April 1757, and from June 1757 to 1761. William Holl's engraving for Lodge's Portraits, 1832 (IV, 210), includes the sitter's name in the inscription on a letter. For numerous other engravings see O'Donoghue.

259 After a portrait by Richard Brompton of 1772
Oil on canvas, 45 3/4 x 33 3/4 in. (1162 x 857 mm); grey eyes, light brown eyebrows, aquiline nose, moles over his left eyebrow and on his right cheek and upper lip, right; long grey wig falling to, and behind, his shoulders; earl's parliamentary robe; dark brown background, left, the lower part of a column, right, with cloudy blue sky between; lit from top left.

Although treated by Scharf [13] as a replica, it is a later variant copy, probably early 19th century, of the three-quarter length at Chevening, showing the sitter with left arm extended. Signed and dated 177(?), this was painted for the sitter and presented to Philip Lord Stanhope [14] whose wife wrote, December 1769, asking Chatham to sit. The picture was evidently well in hand if not finished, by 12 October 1772: 'To begin with the picture—I can't tell you how pleased we all are to hear it is so like . . .'. [15] The date is corroborated by correspondence between Sir Alexander Hood and Chatham, 5 November 1772: 'Chatham is sitting for Brompton, and Sir Charles Saunders says he will also sit for Brompton, as Chatham approves of him'. [16] Brompton exhibited at the Society of Artists, 1773 (44), 'A nobleman in the robes of the house of lords, half length'. Walpole comments: 'Lord Chatham. strong likeness, but raw & hard.' [17] It is not clear from the published extracts when the portrait now at Chevening arrived there, but if it came in 1772, then the one seen by Walpole was perhaps the replica, in the Sidmouth family, believed to have been given by the sitter to his doctor, Henry Addington (1713-90), father of the prime minister. Though the type was engraved whole length by E. Fisher, it is unlikely that the Chevening picture was ever more than a three-quarter length. Copies are at Wilton, [18] and whole length, with the Newhouse Galleries, New York, 1941. [19] A seated variant, also full length, shows the sitter pointing towards A Plan [?] of Reconciliation between Great Britain and the American Colonies. [20] A half length by Brompton was seen by Farington in the Speaker's house, 3 January 1798. [21]

Condition: surface cleaned 1871 and 1895; relined 1902.

Collections: presented, 1868, by Philip, 5th Earl Stanhope, who presumably bought it from C.H. Waters, the purchaser at Foster's, 17 June 1868, lot 82, 'Property of a Gentleman, deceased'; previous history unknown.

Engraved: whole length by E. Fisher, 1779, and three-quarter length by J.K. Sherwin, 1778, lettered corrected from a mask taken by Joseph Wilton.

Literature: The Grenville Papers, ed. W.J. Smith, 1852; Joseph Farington, Diary MS, Windsor typescript, Royal Library; E. Meteyard, Life of Josiah Wedgwood, 1866; Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, Life of William Earl of Shelburne, 1875; Lord Rosebery, Chatham: His early Life and Connections, 1910; B. Williams, Life of Pitt, 1915; B. Tunstall, William Pitt, 1938; M. Whinney, Sculpture in Britain 1530-1830, 1964; J.D. Prown, John Singleton Copley, The Ailsa Mellon Bruce Studies in American Art, II, Washington, 1966.

Appearance
His height was noted by a number of contemporaries, Beckford among them, and Shelburne records 'He was tall in his person, and as genteel as a martyr to the gout could be, with the eye of a hawk, a little head, thin face, long aquiline nose, and perfectly erect.' [22] 'He was scrupulously exact in his dress, and was never seen on business without a full dress coat and tie-wig'. [23]

Iconography
Chatham's biographers Williams and Tunstall reproduce the main portrait types, and earlier comment is found in the biography by Lord Rosebery. Only three oils, two by Hoare, 1754 and 1766, and the Brompton portrait of 1772 are certainly from life. An allegorical whole length by the American C.W. Peale was painted most probably from the statues from Joseph Wilton's studio ordered by South Carolina and New York in gratitude for the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766. [24] In Copley's celebrated Death of Chatham (actually Chatham's collapse in the Lords, 7 April 1778) painted 1779-81, now on loan from the Tate Gallery, the figure of Chatham, it has been suggested, is based on E. Bocquet's engraving after an oil by Brompton; [25] many of the peers are from life. A miniature by Jean Rouquet is in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Two paintings which perhaps represent the sitter earlier in life, c.1750, appeared at Christie's, 9 December 1927, lot 27, as by Highmore, later at Poltalloch House, 1959, collection Colonel G. Malcolm, and at Sotheby's, 4 June 1959, lot 96, inscribed with the sitter's name. Both await further investigation.

Sculpture forms an important part of the iconography. Chatham himself re­commended Wilton to the commissioner for North Carolina, though we do not know when he was first employed. A statue for Cork [26] was finished in 1766 but Wilton's connection with Chatham may go as far back as c.1759, the date on the plinth of the bust in the Scottish NPG. This however might equally allude to the ‘Year of Victories' and not the date of completion. A bust, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum from the Clumber sale, 21 October 1937, lot 344 (one of a pair), is in­scribed 1766. In the Duke of Rutland's version [27] , inscribed 1780, a happy balance is struck between idealism and realism: the warts, also to be seen in Brompton's oil, perhaps indicate a sitting. Sherwin's engraving after Brompton confirms that Wilton took a mask, the lettering reading: Begun from a Painting by Mr. Brompton but Corrected from a Cast Moulded from his Lordship's face, by Joseph Wilton. . . . The engraving, dated 27 August 1778, may have been from a death mask since there is now evidence indicating one was taken. [28] The plaster head at Chevening taken from a bust formerly at Stowe [29] is attributed by the late R. Gunnis to Scheemakers who left England for Antwerp in 1771. A Wedgwood medallion is of 1778 [30] and a bust by the otherwise little known Bridges [31] was in his sale, 1775.

The most convincing portrait of Chatham to survive from his last years is the life-size wax by the American, Patience Wright, seen in her studio in 1775 and purchased for Westminster Abbey, 1778. [32] Bacon designed both the monument in Westminster Abbey, 1778, [33] and the statue in the Guildhall, 1782. He was also, according to Scharf, responsible for the profile portrait on a marble vase, 1781, in the Stowe sale, 3 October 1848, lot l00 (36th day), and at Revesley Abbey, 1890. [34] A number of statues by later artists are recorded by Gunnis.

FALSE PORTRAITS
A painting by Hoare, probably of the 1750s, in the London art trade c.1935-9, bears a superficial likeness but on closer comparison with authentic portraits seems wrongly named. A corresponding drawing by Hoare catalogued as the sitter by Binyon, 1907 (I), is in the British Museum. The clue to the sitter's identity, still unresolved, may be the church partially seen in the background.

Notes
1. Grenville Papers, pp.120-1.
2. GEC, III, p.145.
3. 23rd day, 14 September 1848, lot 346; it passed into the collection of Sir Robert Peel.
4. Reproduced, Connoisseur, CXIX, 1947, advertise­ment, March issue.
5. Reproduced, W.S. Childe-Pemberton, The Earl Bishop, 1925, I, p.98.
6. Collection L.H. Hayter, deceased; Sotheby's, 15 April 1953,, lot 40.
7. Farington, Tuesday 18 [April], p.4101.
8. ‘NPE', 1867 (467), lent by Lord Lyttelton.
9. Somewhat distorted due to photographic conditions.
10. The estate bequeathed to Chatham c.1765.
11. On loan to Bristol Art Gallery from 1937.
12. GEC, II, 318 note a.
13. Scharf, p.102.
14. i.e. 2nd Earl Stanhope (1714-86) who married, 1745, Grisel, daughter of Charles Hamilton, Lord Binning: GEC, XII, part 1, pp.233-4.
15. List of Portraits at Chevening, 1931, p.9.
16. Public Record Office, Chatham MS 23, cited Tunstall, p.430, note 2.
17. Walpole Society, XXVII, p.62.
18. Harding MS, II, p.331.
19. Purchased by International Business Machines Corporation, from a photo it looks like a copy.
20. Sotheby's, 27 July 1967, lot 103, catalogued as ‘Mexican' colonies.
21. Farington, I, p.1192
22. Fitzmaurice, I, p.77.
23. DNB, XV, p.1251.
24. At Annapolis; see R.T.T. Halsey, 'America's Obligation to William Pitt, Earl of Chatham', The Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, June 1918, XIII, pp.138-43.
25. Prown, II, pp.283, 437-8.
26. Reproduced Williams, I, frontispiece; the Wilton statue set up in New York, is now owned by the New York Historical Society.
27. Exh. 'British Portraits', RA, 1956-7 (214).
28. Letter, The Times, 14 January 1936, from Lawrence E. Tanner, Keeper of the Muniments, Westminster Abbey.
29. 6th day, 21 August 1848, lot 771; sold from the Peel collection, 10 May 1900, lot 129 and subsequently reported in the Rosebery collection.
30. Reproduced, Meteyard, II, p.186; also Connoisseur, LXI, 1921, p.202. R. Reilly and G. Savage, Wedgwood the Portrait Medallions, 1973, pp.99-100 (as by Flaxman).
31. Gunnis, p.61.
32. Reproduced Tunstall, opposite p.368; Country Life, CIC 1952, p.1484; see also Tanner letter, note 7, p.47.
33. Reproduced Whinney, pl.129b.
34. SSB, CXXII, f.62v, 63r.