Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Harrington
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.
William Stanhope, 1st Earl of Harrington (1683?-1756)
Diplomat (distantly related to the 1st Earl Stanhope); served in the army intermittently from 1710; created Baron Harrington following the successful negotiation of the Treaty of Seville, 1730; secretary of state, 1730-42 and 1746; created Earl, 1742; general of the foot, 1747; lord lieutenant of Ireland, 1746-50.
4376 By James Worsdale, 1746-50
Oil on canvas, 37 ¾ x 49 ¼ in. (959 x 1251 mm); dark grey eyes and eyebrows, dark complexion, grey wig with looped end falling behind shoulders; reddish-brown velvet coat, white lace shirt and wrist ruffles; in his left hand he holds a letter, the wording not quite legible, the fifth line possibly reading 16000 Pounds; on the table a packet tied with red tape is addressed To/ His Excellency th/ Harrington Lord/ Lieutenant of/ Ireland/ —, the corner covered by an inkpot; chair with carved back surmounted with an earl's coronet; lit from the left.
Inscribed or signed on the base of the column, left: Worsdale/ pinxit.
From the inscription and the sitter's known term of office as lord lieutenant of Ireland, NPG 4376 is datable to 1746-50. It might have been painted in Dublin or London but more likely the latter. Although generally expected to hold court during the winter months, the lord lieutenants often returned to London and were rarely continuously in residence in Dublin.  Worsdale worked in both cities and was appointed master painter to the board of ordnance in London after 1744.
Condition: discoloured varnish removed on acquisition, 1964, revealed signature, bottom left; false paint may still be present; green paint of the tablecloth is brighter under the edge of the frame.
Collections: bought, 1964, from Bernard, the purchaser at Sotheby's, Harrington sale, 6 May 1964, lot 7, as by Kneller; possibly one of two unattributed portraits listed c.1804  in the Yellow Bedroom and Blue Room at Elvaston Castle, Derbyshire, the family seat.
A number of portraits were produced after the sitter's elevation to the peerage in 1730 but the only one prior to this must be that of the young-looking man in armour sold from the family collection, Sotheby's, 19 February 1964, lot 20, as by Kneller. Identification is confirmed by the wart over the left eye. A painting in peer's parliamentary robes by John Fayram (fl.1727-42) is known through the engravings by Simon (CS 78), and, in embroidered coat, by J. Faber junior (CS 181). Both use the same head, possibly arguing a single sitting; the lettering of the first state of the Faber suggests c.1731-33.  A late portrait, also from the family collection, wrongly ascribed to Richardson in the sale catalogue, was at Sotheby's, 22 April 1964, lot 32. Although not corresponding with Michael Ford's engraving (CS 8) lettered Du Pan Pinxt. Dublin 1750, the portrait might yet prove, on stylistic grounds, to be by this artist.
The conversation by Charles Philips, 1739, known as 'The Tea Party at Lord Harrington's', now in the Mellon collection from Ingestre Hall, does not include the sitter. The key to the eighteen figures given in the 'Painting in England 1700-1850'  exhibition, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1963 (219), was apparently copied from one of 1744.