Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Handel

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.

ContentsForewordIntroductionCatalogue scopeAbbreviations> Arrangement of entries>

George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) [1]
Composer; studied at Halle, composer to the Hamburg Opera, 1704, visited Italy, 1707-09; 'Kapellmeister' in Hanover; his opera Rinaldo produced at the Queen's Theatre, Haymarket, 1711; settled in London from 1712; early works include the Water Music, the Chandos anthems, his first oratorio Esther, 1720 and a series of operas produced at the Royal Academy of Music (of which he was director, 1720-28), and at Covent Garden; appointed court composer and naturalised, 1727; after Alexander's Feast, 1736, he turned more and more towards oratorio; Messiah was first heard in Dublin, 1742, the Dettingen 'Te Deum' composed, 1743, Music for the Fireworks, 1748, Jepthath, 1752; partially paralysed c.1735-37 and blind c.1753.

1976 Attributed to Balthasar Denner, 1726-28
Oil on canvas, 29 ½ x 24 5/8 in. (749 x 626 mm); plump pear-shaped face, dark grey eyebrows, blue eyes, protruding bottom lip, dimpled double chin, pale complexion, grey wig, with looped end on his right shoulder; white neck-tie with fringed end, plain grey silk (?) coat with seven small gold-embroidered buttons, open to waist, gold edged waistcoat; dark brown background, brown painted oval; lit from the top left. On the top bar of the stretcher, on the left, a stencil 450P.

Denner's name first occurs in the Anecdotes of Handel, 1799. Though technically rather less accomplished than certain heads of old men and women for which he was celebrated, NPG 1976 is nevertheless smoothly painted with a quiet progression from tone to tone. Furthermore, despite the limitations of contemporary conventions and the highly stylised wig, it emerges, after cleaning, as a shrewd portrait of the composer. The style is close to a signed and dated head and shoulders of 1733 seen at Christie's, 10 October 1958, lot 160. Handel himself owned portraits of an old man and an old woman by Denner which he bequeathed to Jennens, [2] and it is very possible that he would have sat to a painter whose virtuosity he admired. It has been stated, conceivably through confusion with the Knole portrait, that NPG 1976 was painted in 1736. This date, also given in the Anecdotes, is too late. Vogel's suggestion, made as early as 1896, [3] that the portrait relates to Denner's English period, seems to have been overlooked. Denner, who came from Hamburg, was in London from 1721 to 1725, and from August 1726 to July 1728. [4] The looped ends of Handel's wig, and his steinkerk would have been in the height of fashion a little before, but not after, 1730. The costume points strongly to the time of Denner's later London visit. [5]

The Knole portrait, signed Denner and dated 1736, has a long history as Handel. An inscription on the frame reads: FREDERICK HANDEL./ .AETATIS.52./ 0BT. 75.. The frame, clearly 18th century but not necessarily contemporary with the portrait, was there at least by 1817 [6] and may well date from the 3rd Duke of Dorset who is believed to have bought the work in 1778. [7] He also purchased that year portraits of Goldsmith and Garrick by Reynolds and had the fact recorded on the back of the canvases. [8] His collection of musicians included Giardini, Corelli [9] and Sacchini, [10] the last two bought through Reynolds in the 1770s. [11] In the Knole portrait the sitter looks younger than in NPG 1976, the eyebrows are closer to the eyes, he has no cleft chin, and the face appears shorter and more rounded. There is, in fact, no relationship between the two portraits and the Handel at Knole is hard to accept as a portrait of the same sitter by the same artist, particularly as it now seems that NPG 1976 was painted at least eight years before. An attribution to Herman Van der Myn has been suggested but on comparison with Chandos (see above, NPG 530) and other works, this is almost certainly not valid.

pentimenti round the outline of the shoulders; lightly cleaned and varnished 1929; cleaned 1967.

presented, 1923, by A.F. Hill, stated [12] to have been given by Handel to his amanuensis John Christopher Smith, the younger (1712-95), who left it to his son-in-law, the Rev. William Coxe, thence to the latter's sister Martha (1749-c.1835) who married, 1768, Sir Peter Rivers; presented c.1859 to the Sacred Harmonic Society ('recently received a gift from Lady Rivers . . . Smith's grand-daughter'); [13] at Christie's, 3 March 1883, 'Property of the late Sacred Harmonic Society', lot 82, bought Partington for Henry Littleton of Novello & Co, [14] from whose executors bought by A.F. Hill.

by E. Harding, 1799, for the Anecdotes.

'NPE', 1868 (750); 'Portraits of Musicians', Albert Hall, 1885 (64) lent by H. Littleton; [15] 'Music Loan Exhibition', 1904 (p.229 of catalogue); 'Seven Centuries of Portrait-Drawing in Europe', BM, 1959 (no catalogue published); 'Manuscripts and Men', HMC centenary exhibition, NPG, 1969 (78a).

By Francis Kyte, 1742
Oil on canvas 7 5/8 x 6 5/8 in. (194 x 168 mm), laid down on panel; thick arched eyebrows, bluish-brown eyes, plump face, grey wig; pale blue coat with silver lace; in a dark brown painted oval.

Signed and dated by his right shoulder F Kyte pinxit 1742, the xit and 42 apparently strengthened, perhaps since 1874 when in the possession of J.A. Jacob who had been unable to read the last two figures. [16] Milnes, c.1824, read the signature as Fr. Kyte pinxt. 1742. [17] On the back of the wood in bold black, Mr Handel and, now removed to the picture dossier, information in the hand of W.B. Squire that the portrait belonged to Milnes (see Collections).

NPG 2152 is probably the portrait from Keith Milnes' collection acquired by him in 1824. It was engraved, 1828, by F.C. Lewis, the engraving lettered Fr. Kyte pinxt 1742/ From an Original Portrait, of the same size, by Francis Kyte, in the possession/ of Keith Milnes Esqr. which was formerly engraved by Houbraken. Although Milnes was told by Sir Thomas Lawrence that the portrait was from life [18] it is now regarded as a derivative. Assuming the 1742 inscription to be correct it cannot have preceded Houbraken's engraving since, as lately discovered by W.C. Smith, the true date of publication is 1738 and not 1769. The engraving, hitherto associated with the 1769 edition of Judas Maccabeus, was advertised in The Country Journal, or The Craftsman for 22 April 1738: 'This Day is publish'd (And are ready to be deliver'd to the Subscribers for Alexander's Feast) A Print of Mr. Handel Engraved by the celebrated Mr Houbraken of Amsterdam. The Ornaments design'd by Mr Gravelot. Printed for John Walsh in Catherine-Street in the Strand.' [19] This confirms conclusions reached on stylistic grounds, the squaring, in particular, indicating a copy. It also accords with the little we know of Kyte (fl.1710-45) and the improbability that Handel, by then so famous, would have sat to one so obscure. [20]

Hawkins suggests that the prototype was painted abroad, [21] though a small enough portrait could have been taken to Amsterdam. Handel was in Aachen for the waters in September 1737, returning at the end of October or the beginning of November. [22] The source of Houbraken's engraving is still to seek. Extant portraits do not carry conviction as being from the life. Besides the copy by Kyte, there is a pastel at St Giles. This has descended in the Shaftesbury family, who knew the composer, and it appears to be contemporary or nearly so. By the 1850s it had on the back of the frame a note that it was the work of Susanna (d.1758), [23] who became the first wife of the 4th Earl of Shaftesbury in 1725. It measures 8 3/8 x 6 ¾ in., a little smaller than the engraving, and the double chin is less pronounced. A third version, an oil, was sold from the Hill collection, Sotheby's, 18 June 1947, but nothing is known of its previous history. It was subsequently owned by the late W.C. Smith, who believed it to be c.1759, but if so it is later than Houbraken. A fourth version is perhaps postulated by an engraving by Goldar, 1785, lettered as taken from a portrait then in the possession of The Honble John Spencer. John Spencer (1734-83), created Baron Spencer of Althorp, 1761, is presumably meant. He was a subscriber to the Houbraken engraving, but no version is known to the late Lord Spencer.

a test patch of varnish in the background, removed, 1960, between the sitter's left shoulder and the edge of the picture failed to disturb the squaring, which is therefore assumed to be underneath the paint; by inference the picture is a reduced copy; possibly revarnished, c.1824, when in the possession of Milnes.

received,1927, by bequest with NPG 2151 (q.v. below) from W.B. Squire, the portrait, according to his statement, having been bought by Keith Milnes from a ‘Picture-dealer's shop in Great Newport Street on the 28th of July 1824’; [24] it then passed to a Mr Rolfe and, September 1874, was with J.A. Jacob of Sandwich; sold by him on 29 September to Julian Marshall [25] from whom it was acquired by W.H. Cummings at whose sale, Christie's, 17 December 1915, part of lot 152, it was bought by Squire.

the type relates to the engraving by Houbraken published 1738; also to the engraving by G.F. Schmidt, c.1738-44, lettered Georges Frederic Schmidt. Sculp. à Paris and showing a manuscript sheet of the music of the organ concerto, Op. 4, No. 1, first published 1738. Schmidt left Paris in 1744. [26] An engraving from NPG 2152 was produced, 1828, by F.C. Lewis.

By Thomas Hudson, 1756 (The 'Gopsall' portrait)
Oil on canvas, 94 x 57 ½ in. (2388 x 1461 mm); pale brownish-blue eyes, bushy dark brown eyebrows, protruding lower lip, blue shadow on upper lip, cheek and chin, fresh complexion, white wig parted in the centre; white lace cravat and wrist ruffles, grey velvet suit with gold lace edging, waistcoat unbuttoned, black tricorn hat under left arm, his right hand clasps the top of a stout gold-headed cane; a tall chair backed with blue velvet, a table, left, with an open book lettered MESSIAH, black curtain behind drawn back from an opening, left, reveals a stone balustrade with foliage beyond and a pale blue sky with low pink cloud.

Signed and dated on the stone step, bottom left: T. Hudson Pinxt:/1756; a stencil 632 FS is on the stretcher.

This is the second Hudson type, presumably commissioned by Charles Jennens c.1756. A small whole length sketch is in the Royal collection (Millar, 556) and copies [27] include a head and shoulders, Royal collection (Millar, 558), a head in the Fitzwilliam attributed to Grisoni and NPG 8 (see below). The sketch might have been part of the Smith bequest to George III but since it was apparently only recorded in 1876, this cannot be confirmed.

Hudson certainly made two portraits of Handel. In April 1750 he offered the Foundling Hospital a portrait for which the composer had agreed to sit [28] but none is known to have been acquired in Handel's lifetime, [29] and nothing more was heard of this. The first and better known type can be dated from an engraving by Andrew Miller (CS 927) lettered Thos. Hudson Pinxit London 1747, published in Dublin, 1749. An impression was known to Breun but there is no example in the British Museum. A rare early state of the engraving by Faber junior is dated 1748 [30] (CS 51) but the original has not been identified with certainty. A three-quarter length given to Oxford University by Samuel Howard before 1778 [31] does not appear to be from Hudson's hand. A more convincing oil corresponding closely to Faber's engraving entered the Staats und Universitäts-Bibliotek, Hamburg in 1883. Reputedly bought by, or sent to, Handel's family in Halle, it was acquired through the composer's biographer Chrysander for a public collection. [32] It appears to be inscribed, or possibly signed and dated, 1747 or 1749. According to Dr Burmeister, of the Hamburg Bibliotek, the last figure is '9' whereas the photograph seems to read T Hudson Pinxit 1747 . The head looks very good although the treatment of the coat is unusually hard for Hudson.

An Apotheosis of Handel was engraved by Heath after a design by Rebecca and published 26 May 1787 on the Anniversary of the Commemoration. It is lettered The Portrait from an original Picture of Hudson's in the possession of Dr Arnold. Samuel Arnold (1740-1802), composer, was organist of the Chapels Royal and Westminster Abbey. His picture has not been traced, but Rebecca's drawing appears to be a version of the 1747 type Hudson without the wig.

There is no firm evidence for earlier sittings to Hudson. A drawing in red and white chalk on blue paper, stated to be inscribed George Frederick Handel Hudson Pinxit. 1 day of June 1743 was sold at the Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 12 September 1920, lot 196. Miss Davies lists it as a 'Sketch for the portrait presented to the Royal Society of Musicians by Mr Redmond Simpson in 1780' [33] but it might even be a copy of the Faber engraving of 1748. The reproduction in the Drouot sale catalogue is very poor and there is no way of telling whether the words were added later or whether the date is 1743 or 1748. The drawing does not relate to the portrait in the Royal Society of Musicians (see NPG 2151, below); the catalogue statement that it is a signed and dated Hudson remains unsubstantiated.

some discoloured varnish; the craquelure in a few places now opening widely; bituminous in the darks, especially beneath his left forearm. A pentiment shows that the chair back had previously been placed a few inches further to the right.

bought, 1968, with the help of a special grant from H.M.. Government and a public appeal. A 'Portrait of Handel. Hudson', recorded in his London house in 1766, [34] was presumably sent to Gopsall where it was noticed by Britton in 1807. [35] From a drawing by Paine, Gopsall, Leicestershire, the home of Handel's friend and patron Charles Jennens, was probably completed c.1770; [36] bequeathed by Jennens to his nephew Penn Assheton Curzon, husband of Sophia Charlotte, Baroness Howe; thence by descent; deposited on loan to the NPG by Earl Howe, 1956, the loan terminated, 1967, and the picture sold, Christie's, 7 July 1967, lot 104; bought Leggatt's.

'Art Treasures', Manchester, 1857 (238), as by Vanderbank; 'NPE', 1867 (398); 'Music Loan Exhibition', 1904 (p.229 of catalogue).

8 After the portrait by Thomas Hudson,
Oil on canvas, 48 7/8 x 39 7/8 in. (1242 x 1013 mm); as NPG 3970 (above), the wig greyer, his right hand gloved and holding the other glove, also the head of a cane. A stencil 121, possibly the remains of a larger figure, in black, on the top stretcher bar.

The picture appears to be an early, somewhat coarse, copy of NPG 3970 rather than a canvas produced in the studio under Hudson's supervision.

perished varnish; minor retouchings in edge of wig and in background; small losses and pin holes in corners.

purchased 1857, from Graves, Pall Mall.

By an unknown artist
Oil on oak (?), 11 x 8 ½ in. (279 x 216 mm); dark brown eyes and eyebrows, grey wig centre-parted to shoulders; brown coat over gold embroidered waistcoat, both unbuttoned, white neck-band and shirt ruffle; plain brown background, lit from the left; in an incomplete lighter brown oval, painted on three (?) vertical strips of panel, glued together, bevelled at the back along the top.

Inscribed faintly in black on the back of the panel: Mr Handel/ Vn der Myn pinxit and a stencil 637 CJ above, now very indistinct.

On stylistic grounds NPG 2151 is a derivative of a prototype as yet undetermined and may be grouped with two oils in the Royal Society of Musicians and a pastel seen at the NPG in 1961. The oils, both head and shoulders life size, are very similar and probably one is a repetition of the other. Although no dates are available Miss Davies is of the opinion that the earlier version was possibly there by 1780. [37] A provenance for one of the two is suggested in the Musical Times (Handel number) of December 1893, where attention was drawn to a portrait in the Royal Society of Musicians said to be by Hudson and to have belonged to Samuel Arnold (1742-1802), Handel's editor c.1790, and later to William Hawes, Master of the Chapel Royal (1785-1846). The pastel of the same type by John Russell is one of four portraits of musicians in the collection, 1961, of Mrs M.P.H. Simms presented, according to family tradition, by George III to Samuel Wesley. [38] The set was painted c.1776 and included Boyce (now NPG 4214), signed and dated that year, Kelway (NPG 4213), with Corelli and Handel drawn posthumously. From the dress which is within a few years of 1740, Russell has obviously copied an earlier portrait of the sitter.

The inscription on NPG 2151 gives Van der Myn as painter and since such a name is unlikely to be associated with the portrait without reason, the attribution deserves serious consideration. The Van der Myn family is fairly extensive. [39] Herman, Amsterdam-born and patronised by Chandos, is the best, but even he remains little known. He died in London, 1741, and was active there c.1727. Both the oil at the Royal Society of Musicians and NPG 2151 in particular, when compared with such portraits as the 1st Duke of Montagu, Deene Park (84), signed and dated 1732 and C.H. Mildmay, Sotheby's, 6 February 1957, lot 17, signed and dated 1733, would seem too weak in execution for him. A somewhat more likely candidate, judging from his portrait of Anthony Cooke, [40] signed and dated 1755, collection Major Davies-Cooke, is perhaps Herman's son Francis Van der Myn (1719-83).

A further pastel first published in 1920, [41] as by Knapton, but without ownership or provenance, may conceivably be related to this type. No further information is available and the sitter, who noticeably lacks the thrust of jaw so evident in the 1748 Hudson, may be incorrectly named. Apart from this, the features, though softer, agree reasonably with authentic portraits, the pose being near the group associated with NPG 2151. The style, however, suggests a date perhaps as late as the 1770s. It could conceivably be the missing portrait by Hoare (see below, Iconography, Lost Portrait).

two vertical cracks run down the panel, about a half inch in from the left, and two inches in from the right; slight loss along the edges; in 1927 when the cracks were repaired and the portrait cleaned and revarnished, four vertical strips were observed, one perhaps now hidden by a repair strip.

received, 1927, by bequest from W.B. Squire and purchased by him, with NPG 2152 (see above), at W.H. Cummings' executor's sale, Christie's, 17 December 1915, lot 152.

By an unknown artist
Terracotta on a plaster socle, 17 ¼ in. (438 mm) high, including socle; bushy eyebrows, protruding lower lip; tasselled cap slightly tilted over his right ear, open shirt and coat, top button unfastened, cloak or drapery over the shoulders.

The socle has a mark Φ bottom centre, probably to show the front, and may not be coeval with the bust. [Editorial note, 2013: see the printed edition of this catalogue for a more precise reproduction of the mark.]
NPG 878 is not closely related to the marble bust at Windsor, [42] incised and dated 1739, by Roubiliac, the only major contemporary sculptor known to have portrayed the sitter. Tentatively equating it with a terracotta in the Roubiliac sale of 1762, Mrs Esdaile suggested it was perhaps a study for the Windsor marble. [43] This reading was possibly strengthened by confusion over the provenance. The terracotta of the Windsor type is now known to be in the Foundling Hospital. [44] Despite attribution in early Gallery catalogues and certain superficial resemblances in, for example, the cap and tassel and the arrangement of the collar in both the Windsor bust and ours, comparison with Roubiliac's half life-size terracotta of Ligonier (q.v. NPG 2013) clearly confirms that NPG 878 is in reality another type by another hand. This view is strengthened by confrontation with the near-identical recently discovered bronze in the Fitzwilliam Museum. [45] Neither is dated, nor has the date of publication been ascertained for a somewhat similar loose engraving from the Universal Magazine (O'D 34). Both busts could be early, or even contemporary with the sitter; and it is tempting to associate them with an as yet unidentified edition of thirty casts advertised for sale by an F. Bull as early as 1758. [46]

given, 1891, by W.H. Whithall who had received it some forty years previously (c.1852) from Richard Clark (1780-1856), senior vicar choral of Westminster Abbey and a pupil of the bass singer James Bartleman (1769-1821). The bust, as also stated by Whithall in 1892, had been given to Clark by the conductor Sir George Smart (1776-1867) and was believed to have been purchased at either the Bartleman sale or that of Dr Kitchener [sic], an amateur musician who died 26 February 1827, aged about 50; [47] there is no record of it, however, in the two Kitchiner sales of 1809 and 1838 [48] or in that of Bartleman, White's, 20 February 1822, and days following; Bartleman was the owner both of the Handel terracotta which later went to the Foundling Hospital, [49] offered for sale, 1824, by H. Rodd of 9 Great Newport Street, at £35, [50] and of the Wolfgang portrait bought at Charles Burney's sale, White's, 8 August 1814, lot 1029 (see Iconography below).

passages in plaster in the back of the shoulders and signs of white (paint or plaster?) in the more inaccessible folds, particularly under the cap.

Sir John Hawkins, A General History . . . of Music, 1776; C. Burney, An Account of the . . . Commemoration of Handel, 1785; Anecdotes of George Frederick Handel and John Christopher Smith, 1799, attributed to W. Coxe; [55] J. Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century . . . 1812-15; J. Bridgman, An Historical . . . Sketch of Knole, 1817; [K. Milnes], Memoir relating to the Portrait of Handel by Francis Kyte, 1829; V. Schoelcher, Life of Handel, 1857; F. Chrysander, G.F. Handel, 1858-67; Letters of the First Earl of Malmesbury, 1870; Musical Times, December 1893 (Handel Number); E. Vogel, 'Händel portraits', Jahrbuch der Musikbibliothek Peters für 1896; Lord Malmesbury, 'Some Anecdotes of the Harris Family', The Ancestor, I, 1902; C.J. Phillips, History of the Sackville Family, n.d.; J.C. Coopersmith, 'A list of Portraits, Sculptures etc. of G.F. Handel', Music and Letters, XIII, 1932; E.M. Davies (Mrs A.H. King), The Life and Work of Thomas Hudson, 1938 (unpublished MA thesis, University of London); P.A. Scholes, The Great Dr. Burney, 1948; W.C. Smith, Concerning Handel, 1948; O.E. Deutsch, Handel: a documentary biography, 1955; Newman Flower, George Frideric Handel . . . , revised edition, 1959; J.V.G. Mallet, 'Some portrait medallions by Roubiliac', Burlington Magazine, CIV, 1962; A.H. King, Some British Collectors of Music . . ., 1964; W.C. Smith, A Handelian's Notebook, 1965; T.W.I. Hodgkinson, 'Handel at Vauxhall', Victoria and Albert Museum Bulletin, I, 1965; J.F. Kerslake, 'Roubiliac's "Handel" a terra-cotta restored', Burlington Magazine, CVIII, 1966.


In a rare contemporary description, Lady Shaftesbury, writing in March 1745, [51] found him 'dejected, wan, and dark, sitting by, not playing on the harpsichord . . .'. Reminiscences are more plentiful and include Hawkins, 1776: ‘He was in his person a large made and very portly man. His gait, which was ever sauntering, was rather ungraceful, as it had in it somewhat of that rocking motion, which distinguishes those whose legs are bowed. His features were finely marked, and the general cast of his countenance placid, bespeaking dignity attempered with benevolence', [52] and C. Burney, some 26 years after his death: ‘his general look was somewhat heavy and sour; but when he did smile, it was his sire the sun, bursting out of a black cloud. There was a sudden flash of intelligence, wit, and good humour, beaming in his countenance, which I hardly ever saw in any other'. [53] To this, the Anecdotes add little save Quin's uncharitable ‘his hands were feet, and his fingers toes'. [54]


Portraits are widely dispersed with few public institutions possessing more than one. Mr Gerald Coke's collection of early editions and manuscripts of Handel also contains portraits, some of them from the Flower collection. Although lists have been compiled by, among others, Vogel, [56] Coopersmith [57] and the late W.C. Smith, [58] as well as for the DNB and successive editions of Grove, [59] the subject has hitherto been mainly the preserve of the musicologist and the collector. Very little seems to survive, or at least has been identified, from the early years, and with no sitter books known for Mercier, Hudson and Roubiliac, to name but a few of the major figures, chronology is a considerable problem. While he may have sat more than once, few artists leave an impression of the sitter's advancing years, with the exception of the second Hudson portrait, revealing a sadness rare for his bland brush, and the little Roubiliac roundel in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Handel settled in England in 1712 and a few portraits, if taken before this date, may have remained abroad. After 1712 his journeys were comparatively infrequent and brief—to Germany 1716 and 1719, Italy 1729, Dublin 1741-42, and in Germany again 1737 and 1750. [60] The earliest indisputably dated portrait is Roubiliac's Vauxhall statue of 1738, produced when the sitter had already been resident in England some twenty-six years.

To 1738

Charles Burney's will of January 1807 records 'My half length Picture of Handel, painted by Wolfgang at Hanover in the year 1710, where he stopt at the Elector's Court (afterwards Geo. the first, King of England) on his way from Italy to London . . . is the best picture of him, and must have a strong resemblance in his 24th year when it was painted. Mrs Delany, who saw him in the first year of his arrival, to whom this portrait was shewn, said no resemblance on canvas could be stronger, and Sir Joshua Reynolds, when he saw it, said he was sure it was like, as it was not a made up face'. [61]

Mrs Delany first met the Burneys in 1783 [62] but Charles Burney does not say when he acquired the picture, which he offered as a bequest to the 'Concert of Ancient Music' (founded 1776). [63] It may have been the portrait by Wolfgang advertised for sale in The Morning Post and Daily Advertiser, 8 May 1789. [64] The last firm reference is the 1814 sale when it was bought by Bartleman (see NPG 878, Collections, above). The Wolfgangs of Augsburg are complicated and confusing. [65] Burney's portrait does not seem to have been engraved and his date of 1710 and attribution cannot be tested, but he is circumstantial and emphatic. The only appropriate Wolfgang working c.1710 is Gustav Andreas (1692-1775), who painted oils and miniatures, and was also an engraver.

W.C. Smith's statement that the 'Burney portrait was afterwards acquired by Snoxell' suggests that he identifies it with the portrait sold with an engraving after it in the Snoxell sale, Puttick and Simpson, 9 June 1879, lot 272, bought W. Clark. [66] (No previous history given in the sale catalogue.) The conjunction of painting and engraving, however, points to the type of c.1738, discussed below, probably painted by Georg Andreas Wolfgang the younger (1703-45), and engraved by his father Johann Georg Wolfgang (1662-1744).

Vogel refers to a miniature by Zincke then, 1896, in the Barrett Lennard collection, [67] as the earliest surviving portrait. Even if correctly named, the reproduction raises doubts since the wig indicates a date in the 1740s. Zincke, a fellow German, may well have painted Handel but the only evidence of any connection is that his name appears as a subscriber to publications by Handel, 1736-39. [68]

Of existing portraits, the earliest are NPG 1976 attributed to Denner and the fine oil by Mercier, with harpsichord, pen and music (unidentified) in the Malmesbury collection. The portrait, given by the sitter c.1748 to his friend Thomas Harris, has an inscription on the back of the relining canvas: Original Portrait of the Handel/ Given/ By Him To/ Ths.. Harris Esqr./ About 1748. [69] Conceivably of the late 'twenties, Handel looks younger than in the majority of known portraits. The picture was also signed but the traces of a date, despite examination when exhibited 'Hampshire Houses', 1955 (42) and 'Philip Mercier', Kenwood (21) remain indecipherable.

‘Alexander's Feast' and After

While the mezzotints of the 1747 Hudson probably had the widest popularity, the first engraving is probably that by Houbraken, 1738. As discussed under NPG 2152 above, the source of this head has not been identified. Houbraken's engraving is set in a cartouche by Gravelot, representing the opening scene from Alexander's Feast. [70] It is a testimony to Handel's reputation and to the astuteness of his publishers, that the artists selected were those chosen to illustrate Birch's important Heads of the Illustrious Persons of Great Britain. [71] The Handel is of the same format as Birch's past celebrities, but the engraving was issued not for the Heads, but separately for subscribers to Walsh's edition of the Feast.

Another type, also connected with Alexander's Feast, is usually attributed to Georg Andreas Wolfgang the younger (see above), known to have painted oils and miniatures. It can be dated c.1737 on the basis of a small pencil and sepia drawing of the same type, formerly at Leipzig, on the back of which was an old inscription stating it to have been taken by Wolfgang in London in that year. [72] The terminus for this type, engraved by J.G. Wolfgang, [73] rests on the date of his death in 1744. Two versions in this country are the miniature at Windsor signed GAW and an oil in which the sitter is shown holding a book lettered Alexander's Feast. Now in the Flower collection and listed as a Hudson when with Henrici of Berlin, 1928, [74] it was previously in the collection of Dr Harry E. Smith of Streatham. [75]

Roubiliac's great statue of Handel as Apollo, 1738, commissioned by Jonathan Tyers, proprietor of the Vauxhall Gardens, [76] was the first public monument in England to so honour a man, who was neither king nor warrior, in his lifetime. It is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum. His marble bust at Windsor is dated 1739. By 1742 when Paul Petit was paid for framing it, the Prince of Wales had 'A portrait of Mr Hendle painted by Mr Goupy' [77] —J. Goupy who painted the scenery for many of Handel's operas and whose cartoon 'The charming Brute', published after the furore of the production of Deborah so offended the composer. [78] A pastel of it is in the Fitzwilliam.

After 1739 come the types represented by NPG 2151, 2152 (see above) and the Hudsons discussed under NPG 3970. A comparatively late portrait by an unknown artist, owned, 1959, by Herr Foss, a descendant of Handel's sister Dorothea, is reproduced by Flower. [79] On comparison with known portraits, it seems rightly named.

Roubiliac's last certain portrait is the monument in Westminster Abbey, 1761. [80] A modello for the latter is in the Ashmolean; another, recently discovered in Bath, was acquired by Mr Coke. [81] The moving terracotta roundel, acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1961, virtually inconceivable as the work of any other sculptor, argues a sitting and a late date, possibly illness, although an artist of Roubiliac's calibre could have achieved the result on the basis of earlier sittings. The bronze medallion in the collection of F.J.B. Watson relates to known Roubiliac types and formed, with heads of Pope, Garrick and Conyers Middleton, a set of four; [82] a similar bronze bust is in a private collection in Bremen. [83] The profile plaster in Sir John Soane's collection [84] appears to have been associated with Roubiliac from an early date.

A national tribute, the Handel Commemoration, first of a series of concerts in Westminster Abbey begun in 1784 [85] to mark the supposed centenary of the composer's birth, was largely due to the instigation of three amateurs of music, Viscount Fitzwilliam, Sir Watkin Williams Wynn and Joah Bates. It was attended by the King and Queen, and the elite of society and music. Rebecca's Apotheosis issued in connection with the 1787 performance is somewhat weak. Edward Edwards painted a circumstantial account of the scene, exhibited at the RA 1793 (198); it is now in the Mellon collection. But the more satisfying apotheosis was to come not from the graphic arts, but from the annual performance of Handel's works which henceforth became an established feature of English musical life.

A miniature by Christopher Barber was offered to the British Museum c.1759. [86] A portrait in crayons by Hoare 'manifestly like' was still in the possession of the painter's brother, Prince Hoare, when he showed it to Farington in April 1809 [87] (see NPG 2151 above).

Few pictures of Handel, according to Hawkins in 1776, 'are to any tolerable degree likenesses, except one painted abroad . . . in the print of him by Houbraken the features are too prominent; and in the mezzotint after Hudson there is a harshness to which his countenance was a stranger; the most perfect re semblance of him is the statue on his monument, and in that the true lineaments of his face are apparent'. [88] Despite the advantage of his acquaintance with the sitter, Hawkins' comments are not easily assessed since we cannot know how many portraits of Handel known to us were also known to him.

These include one attributed to Thornhill in the Fitzwilliam Museum, the portrait at Knole (discussed above under NPG 1976), the two oils in the Foundling Hospital (Thomas Coram Foundation) and the portrait in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.


1. Properly Georg Friederich Handel as in the baptismal register at Halle, Deutsch, p.1. In England his normal usage was George Frideric Handel, as in the Act of Naturalisation, 1727, ibid, pp.202 ff, and in his will, ibid, reproduced opposite p.673.
2. Schoelcher, p 342; Deutsch, p789, citing the third codicil to Handel's will, 1757.
3. Vogel, p.23.
4. Vertue, I. p.76; III, pp.2, 5, 6, 29, 34.
5. Vogel, p.23, mentions a visit in 1715, not noticed by Vertue; this would be too early for the costume.
6. Bridgman, p.127.
7. Information from R. St John Gore.
8. Phillips, II, pp.419-20.
9. Ibid, pp.417, 440.
10. Bridgman, p.130.
11. Cormack, p.150; II, f.14r.
12. Anecdotes of ... Handel, advertisement, and pp.49, 55.
13. Art Journal, 1859, p.62; The Illustrated London News, XXIV, 1859, p.580, a poor wood engraving, p.577.
14. NPG archives.
15. Scharf's MS list (63), NPG archives.
16. Letter, NPG archives.
17. Memoir relating to the Portrait of Handel . . ., p5.
18. Ibid. . ., p.6.
19. Smith, 1948, p.111 ff, and p.128.
20. Ibid, pp.137-38.
21. Hawkins, V, 1776, reproduced p.262, pp.412-13.
22. Deutsch, pp.439-40.
23. Née Noel, eldest daughter of the 3rd Earl of Gainsborough.
24. Account by W.B. Squire, NPG archives; Memoir relating to the Portrait of Handel . . ., p.4.
25. J.A. Jacob correspondence, 1 September 1874 and after, NPG archives.
26. Smith, 1965, pp.127-31; B. Matthews, Music and Letters, January 1963, pp.43-45; Smith, 1948, pp.133-34 and pl.8.
27. Listed, Coopersmith, p.6.
28. Deutsch, p.687.
29. Kerslake, p.475.
30. Cf Russell, p.90.
31. Poole, I, p 103, in the Bodleian. Another, head shoulders, ibid, p.160, in the Music School, has not been reproduced.
32. Information, verbal, W.C. Smith.
33. Davies, p.363.
34. The English Connoisseur, I, 1766, p.135.
35. Beauties, IX, p.485.
36. Colvin, p.432.
37. Davies, p.363.
38. NPG Annual Report 1961-62, p 8.
39. Cp Vertue, Index to vols I-V, pp.266-67; A. Staring, ‘De Van der Mijns in Engeland', Nederlandsch Kunsthistorisch Jaarboek, XVII, 1966, pp.244-45.
40. Exh. 'Portraits from Welsh Houses', Cardiff, 1948 (43).
41. Connoisseur, 1920, LVIII, reproduced p.21, also 1943, CXI, p.82, as by Knapton, without explanatory text. Adams regarded it as a free copy of the head in NPG 3970.
42. Possibly given to George III by the younger J.C. Smith. In the early 19th century there were evidently three busts of Handel in the Royal collection. A second, bare-headed marble now there appears to derive from Roubiliac, but is not known to be the bust ordered by the Prince Regent from the younger John Bacon in 1806: 'George III, Collector and Patron', Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, 1974-75 (48).
43. Esdaile, pp.51-52, pl.x(a); p.183, C75, D53; p.226: third day of sale, 14 May, 'Busts in Terra Cotta . . . Lot 75 Mr. Handell'.
44. Kerslake, p.475, pls 46,47.
45. Provenance unknown. The busts were examined side by side, December 1976, through the courtesy of Mr Charles Avery and Mr Anthony Radcliffe who kindly discussed the whole subject with me.
46. Deutsch, p 798.
47. A. Hyatt King, p.38.
48. A. Hyatt King, verbal.
49. Correspondence, NPG archives.
50. Information, T.W.I. Hodgkinson.
51. Malmesbury, Letters, I, p.2; C.F. Bell in his annotated copy of the Letters, NPG library, confirming Deutsch, p.703, suggests 1751, not 1745.
52. Hawkins, V, pp.412-13.
53. Burney, p.36; Nichols, III, p.345.
54. Anecdotes of . . . Handel, p.26.
55. Coxe's authorship doubted by BM Music Room.
56. Jahrbuch . . ., 1896.
57. Music and Letters, 1932.
58. It is hoped to publish Smith's text under the care of Mr Coke.
59. Dictionary of Music . . ., 5th edition, 1954.
60. Deutsch, p.914.
61. Scholes, II, p.269.
62. Ibid, p.18.
63. The offer was declined, ibid, pp.178, 269-70 and note 4.
64. Smith, 1948, p.132.
65. See Thieme-Becker, XXXVI, pp.220-22.
66. Smith, pp.133-34. This may be the portrait in a Swedish private collection, 1968, with an impression of the Wolfgang engraving on the back and the remnants of the name Clark on a torn label. It is not the engraved type, nor is it certainly of Handel.
67. Vogel, p.22; Musical Times (Handel number), p.6. Barrett Lennard owned some Handeliana which he gave to the Fitzwilliam, 'Handel and the Fitzwilliam', Cambridge, 1974 (5, 19, 26). An enamel in the same exhibition (13), ascribed to Zincke, is a copy of the 1747 Hudson.
68. Deutsch, pp.410, 425, 430, 450, 454, 499.
69. Malmesbury, I, p.12.
70. Gravelot's drawing is now in the BM.
71. An incomplete set of these 'Numbers' each of four plates, sewn in blue wrappers, was acquired for the NPG library in 1960. Number V appeared by 4 May 1738, the date of the advertisement on the wrapper for the edition of Samuel Clarke's Works. Houbraken's engraving of Thomas, Duke of Norfolk, in Number I, is dated 1735; the completed number probably appeared late 1737, or early 1738. The 108 Heads first appeared in book form in 1743.
72 Collection Peters edition in 1896; Smith, 1948, p.132; Vogel, frontispiece.
73. O'D 31, as G. Wolffgang after G. Wolffgang.
74. Karl Ernst Henrici, Auktionskatalog, CXXX, 1928, lot 129; Flower, new revised edition, 1959 frontispiece.
75. In 1953, when the NPG purchased the Reynolds, Burney descendants were still living in Streatham.
76. Hodgkinson, I, pp.1 ff.
77. Millar, p.184.
78. Deutsch, p.748; cp Flower, reproduced opposite p.225.
79. Flower, opposite p.352.
80. Whinney, p.109.
81. Reproduced, M. Whinney, 'Handel and Roubiliac', Musical Times, February 1961, fig. 4; the Ashmolean modello is nearer the final design.
82. Mallet, pp.153-58, pl.30.
83. Exh. 'Bildkunst im Zeitalter Johann Sebastian Bach', Kunsthalle, Bremen, 1971 (258).
84. Official Handbook, 10th edition, 1920, pp.68-69; Mallet, p.157, note 19.
85. Burney, passim.
86. Information, E. Croft-Murray, 1974.
87. Farington Diary, 18 April 1809, Windsor typescript, pp.4101-02.
88. Hawkins, V, pp.412-13.