Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Collet

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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Joseph Collet (1673-1725)
Merchant-administrator; son of a London merchant made bankrupt during the Marlborough wars; a deputy governor, 1711, in the East India Company in Sumatra; succeeded Harrison, 1717, as governor of Madras, where he died.

4005 By Amoy Chinqua, 1716
Painted plaster on a wood core, 33 in. (838 mm) high, including base; in contemporary rosewood case; dark brown eyes, full face, hot brown complexion, grey full-bottomed wig; white shirt and cravat, red coat with gold lace, mauve embroidered waistcoat and breeches, black boots, black hat in crook of his left arm, his right hand resting on a cane.

Inscribed on the base: AMOY CHINQVA FECIT 1716.

An early example of 18th-century Chinese portrait-figures made for the export market; NPG 4005 was modelled in Madras and completed by 14 December 1716 when the sitter sent it to his daughter Elisabeth as 'a sort of Picture or Image of my Self. The lineaments and the Features are Esteem'd very just but the com­plexion is not quite so well hit; the proportion of my body and my habit is very exact'. [1]

A similar figure, possibly by Chinqua, was with Captain J. Duveen, 1963. A figure of a different pattern, of Edward Harrison, [2] governor of Madras, c.1715, may be by a member of the same family. Though usually taken to be a family name, R.J. Charleston suggests that Amoy Chinqua might be interpreted as 'a Chinese artist who came from Amoy'.

Condition: well preserved; on acquisition, small areas of the coat and waistcoat which had broken away from near the third button down were made up in plaster of Paris and given a thin coat of putty and colour, several missing coat buttons were replaced by replicas, the sword hilt repaired and the grip replaced; the dowel for the right hand was also strengthened at that time, and again in 1959.

Collections: presented, 1956, by the sitter's descendant, W.P.G. Collet.

Literature: The Private Letter Books of Joseph Collet, ed. H.H. Dodwell, 1933; R.J. Charleston, 'Chinese face-makers', Antiques, May 1958; A. Staring, 'Chineesche Portretfiguren', Oud-Holland, LXXIII, 1958.

A miniature described as Collet by Zincke and inscribed as aged 48 in 1721 was in the 'Portrait Miniatures' exhibition, 1865 (300). Lent by Miss Catharine Scheil, with three other miniatures of Collet's family, it may well be the same as one subsequently lent by Sir Charles Dilke to the miniatures exhibition, BFAC, 1889 (54). No other portrait appears to be recorded.

1. Dodwell, pp.140-1.
2. D.T. Piper, The English Face, 1957, pl.145.

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