Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Grafton

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 Fitzroy, 2nd Duke of Grafton (1683-1757)
Politician; succeeded his father 1690; entered the army 1703; lord high steward at George I's coronation and one of the lords justices during the King's absence in Hanover; lord-lieutenant of Ireland 1720-24; lord chamberlain 1724-57; a devotee of the hunt, he died, after a fall, when riding at the age of seventy.

3210 By Sir Godfrey Kneller, c.1705. See Piper, 1963, p.145.

723 Attributed to William Hoare
Oil on canvas, 59 ¾ x 49 ¼ in. (1518 x 1256 mm); dark eyes, heavy eyebrows, strong nose, pouting lower lip, long grey wig falling behind his shoulder, right, and in front, left; Garter mantle lined with white, Garter collar, and red robes over a grey silk suit with silver lace, white lace cravat and cuffs, right hand gloved; white wand in his left hand, lord chamberlain's key of office at his waist; black Garter hat with lofty plumes on a table, right; plain masonry background with a pilaster, left.

Attribution to Hoare dates from the time of acquisition but there is no contemporary record of a portrait by this artist. A three-quarter length of the sitter in the Harrington heirlooms sale, [1] Christie's, 18 May 1917, lot 24, listed as the 3rd Duke and partly sketched by Milner, was attributed to Hoare as was a portrait of similar size which appeared at Christie's, 10 March 1950, lot 117 and again 17 October 1952, lot 111. The latter, a version of the portrait of 1739 by Vanloo at Euston Hall, has a coronet on the table instead of the plumed hat. No composition corresponding to NPG 273 is among the Hoare drawings in the British Museum and although the portrait is probably an independent type, it might conceivably be based in part on the Vanloo design. The features have been smoothed out and the manner, with the pronounced thrust of the elbow, is somewhat reminiscent of later Hudson.

Condition: discoloured and perished varnish; lower lip retouched; surface cleaned and varnished 1895 and 1900.

Collections: presented, 1884, by Sir Richard Wallace, Bart, as by Hoare; possibly inherited 1870 from the collection of his father, 4th Marquess of Hertford. [2] The 1st Marquess married, 1741, Isabella, the sitter's daughter. There is no reference to the portrait in Musgrave's brief list of Hertford pictures at Ragley, 1797. [3]

Appearance
'A very pretty gentleman . . . a tall black man', commented Bishop Burnet, describing the sitter as a young man, [4] and George Bloomfield, drawing on childhood impressions, recalled: 'I know not how far local tradition may have mixed with personal recollections but the "mind's eye" presents the picture of an elderly gentleman, of spare form, middle stature, straight silver hair, a prominent nose, and a countenance of much severity; and dressed in a light-coloured coat, long black boots and a small three cornered hat'. [5]

Iconography
Grafton sat to the main painters of his day and many of the portraits, some of outstanding quality, are still in the family collection at Euston Hall. Among these is a small portrait of him as a child, the only surviving copy after the whole length by Kneller, engraved by Smith, 1689, as painted 1685; a version formerly at Barton Hall was burnt. Another (50 x 40 in.) of the same design, apparently correctly inscribed Kneller pinx 1683, appeared at Sotheby's, 19 February 1964, lot 19, from the collection of the Earl of Harrington, Elvaston Castle. A portrait ascribed to Philippe de Champagne but probably by Kneller, with versions at Ickworth, [6] Euston and Balnagown Castle, shows him as a boy with his mother. He was painted by Seeman, pair with his wife Henrietta (Somerset) whom he married in 1713. The next portrait is the fine Kneller of him as a young man, in the Kit-cat series (NPG 3210). A portrait, without attribution, datable on costume to the mid-'thirties in a private collection in Northamptonshire, seems to represent him both on likeness and the inclusion of the Garter, white wand and chamberlain's key; it might prove to be by Thomas Gibson. The fine whole length by Vanloo at Euston similar to NPG 273, is likely to be the portrait engraved by Faber, three-quarter length, in 1740, as painted in 1739.

Finally there are the portraits by Reynolds to whom Grafton sat 25 June 1755 and 17 February 1757. At least one portrait, as Waterhouse points out, was painted in 1754 and another perhaps in 1756, [7] a year for which the sitter book is missing. Payments before 1760 are recorded for one whole length (£50. 8s for Mr Wall) and one half length (£25 for Lord Edgcumb). [8] Four portraits survive: a whole length in peer's robes with Garter collar 'recently acquired' and presented, 1805, by R.H. Beaumont to the Ashmolean Museum, [9] a three-quarter length variant in plain dress and Garter star sold from the Harrington collection, Sotheby's, 15 July 1964, lot 115, and, apparently from the same sittings, a small whole length at Ragley, Marquess of Hertford and a large three-quarter length in which the sitter has a white wand in his left hand and a coronet in his right. At Sotheby's, 1 February 1950, lot 67, the three-quarter length was last there, 22 November 1967, lot 22, from the collection of Mrs Robertson whose ancestor, it was stated, had received it as the 4th Duke of Devonshire. It is perhaps the same picture catalogued in the Reynolds sale, Greenwood's, 16 April 1796, lot 26, [10] as the 'late Duke of Grafton'. Musgrave, 1797, recorded only a portrait by Shackleton at Ragley. [11]

Notes
1. William Stanhope, Earl of Harrington (1719-79), married firstly Caroline, eldest daughter of Charles Fitzroy.
2. Wallace Collection Catalogue Pictures and Drawings, 16th edition, 1968, pp.viii, xiv.
3. BM Add MS 6391, f.217.
4. Quoted GEC, VI, p.45.
5. Lord Albemarle, Memoirs of Rockingham, I, 1852, p.223.
6. Farrer, p.107 (21).
7. Waterhouse, 1968, pp.131, 150.
8. Cormack, p.121, records later payments but their relation to existing portraits is not apparent.
9. Waterhouse, 1941, p.40, pl.28; exh. 'Midland Houses', Birmingham, 1953 (63).
10. Waterhouse, 1968, p.150.
11.BM Add MS 6391, f.217.