Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Churchill

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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Charles Churchill (1731-64)
Satirist: succeeded his father as curate of St John's Westminster, 1758-63; separated from his wife, 1761; published, among many other works, The Rosciad and The Apology, 1761; sharply attacked actors, authors and politicians; died in Boulogne on his way to join his friend Wilkes in Paris.

162 By J.S.C. Schaak, c.1763-4
Oil on canvas, 28 3/4 x 242 in. (730 x 622 mm); brown eyes, broad face, double chin, dark brown hair or wig; dark brown coat, open, over double-breasted black waistcoat, white shirt; plain brown back­ground; painted oval.

As the portrait shows civil dress, it was presumably painted after Churchill abandoned the Church in January 1763. He had, however, appeared before then in a 'blue coat with metal buttons' [1] and been reproved for it by Pearce, the Dean of Westminster. The same type head appears in an engraving in clerical dress (from a magazine as yet unidentified) with his friend Robert Lloyd.

Schaak (fl. 1761-70), presumably of Dutch origin, [2] resided in College Street, Westminster and is known mainly by portraits exhibited, or signed and dated between 1761-77 (see below, James Wolfe, NPG 48). NPG 162 is not dated but seems to be from life and thus c.1763-4.

Condition: On comparison with Burford's engraving, the hair seems somewhat rubbed; small old retouchings, chiefly in the face, have discoloured; surface cleaned and varnished, 1895.

Collections: bought, 1863, from Colnaghi's, one of twenty-two portraits referred to by G. Barker (see above, Chesterfield, NPG 158, Collections).

Exhibited: ’NPE' 1867 (651); 'John Wilkes', British Museum, 1969.

Engraved: posthumously by T. Burford, 28 February 1765; also E. Smith for Effigies Poeticae, II, 1824, p.79, when in the collection of Sir Richard Phillips. For other derivatives, see O'Donoghue.

Iconography
No other oil is now known. John Forster refers to a portrait, [3] Kit-cat size, presented in 1837 to Lord Northampton's hospital at Greenwich, 'commonly called Norfolk College', [4] by the warden and architect, Charles Tatham: 'The poet has a pen in his hand, and before him a letter, addressed to Wilkes in Paris.' This suggests the portrait could be that by Charles Catton the elder, engraved by Cook, 1784, for Bell's edition of the poems. The type seems closer, however, to Schaak and may well derive from it. Other types are known only from engravings such as the crude example by A. Smith depicting the poet at work, after a drawing by the Irish artist J.H. O'Neal and an anony­mous portrait for a publication at present unidentified. [5] In 'The Bruiser', Hogarth substituted a caricature of Churchill as a bear for his own image in the famous self-portrait engraving with a dog. [6] In 1860 Scharf sketched an oval in which Churchill has his hat under his left arm. [7] An oil sketch called Charles Churchill, collection J. Bingham, Nottingham, 1955, corresponds with an engraving of Felice Giardini, the violinist, after a sketch by Reynolds (O'D 3).

Notes
1. DNB, IV, p.310.
2. J.F. Kerslake, Wolfe, Portraiture and Genealogy, 1959, p.39.
3. J. Forster, Biographical Essays, 1860, p.305 note.
4. Lysons, 1811, I, pp.540-1.
5. Extra illustrated DNB, NPG library.
6. Paulson, 1965, I, pp.257-8; II, pls 193, 238-9.
7. TSB, IV, p.70, with C. Braham of Mayfair; supposedly by Gainsborough.