Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Hervey

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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John, Baron Hervey of Ickworth (1696-1743)
Courtier, author; younger son of John Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, styled Lord Hervey after the death of his elder brother, 1723; married Mary Lepell, maid of honour to the Princess of Wales, celebrated beauty, 1723; MP, 1725-33; vice-chamberlain of the household, 1730-40; succeeded his father in the Barony of Ickworth, 1733; lord privy seal, 1740-42; supporter of Walpole, friend of Queen Caroline, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and, until a bitter quarrel in 1733, also of Frederick, Prince of Wales; his Memoirs, like Walpole's Letters written for posterity, are indispensable source material for the history of George II and his court.

167 Studio of Jean Baptiste Vanloo, c.1740-41
Oil on canvas, 80 ¼ x 61 ¼ in. (2038 x 1556 mm); light grey eyebrows, grey-blue eyes, long nose, cleft chin, pale complexion, white wig with centre parting, to shoulders; blue coat lined with white fur, white shirt and ruffles, gold-coloured waistcoat, black breeches and shoes, white hose; purse of the privy seal on his right knee; on the table, to his left, a plan for a formal garden and on it an inkpot and two books with gold lettering on the red panels: SPEED JOHN/ THE / HISTORY and PLAT. H/ THE/ JEWEL, red-backed chair, carpeted floor; masonry background with dark green curtain draped diagonally behind a column.

NPG 167 is a version of a portrait painted by 1741 by Vanloo, showing the sitter with the purse of lord privy seal, an office he held 1740-42. Walpole noted, 1762, that in the portrait of Lady Ilchester as a sea nymph, at Redlynch, the head was by Vanloo and 'the rest by Eckardt, his Scholar'. [1] If, by implication, part of NPG 167 is also by Eccardt, his work is here indistinguishable from his master's. A better whole length, with a table on the left, remains at Ickworth (88), as also (90) an oval head and shoulders. A three-quarter length, formerly at Ickworth where labelled 'Hudson', was at the Treasury, Ministry of Public Building and Works, 1954, and another was with Stoner and Evans in 1927; a third, lent by F. Hanbury Williams to the ‘NPE' 1867 (257), probably the portrait with A.W. Newton, USA, in 1931, shows the ground in the quarterings of the royal arms uncoloured and may derive from Faber's engraving.

Condition: discoloured varnish; some retouchings now visible in the skirt of the coat; a small loss about 42 in. up the right-hand margin; surface cleaned and varnished 1898.

Collections: given, 1863, by the Marquess of Bristol.

Engraved: the three-quarter type mezzotinted by J. Faber junior 1741 (CS 188).

Literature: Melbury Catalogue, 1883; The Diary of John Lord Hervey, 1st Earl of Bristol, Suffolk Record Society, 1894; R.B. Beckett, Hogarth, 1949; R. Paulson, Hogarth, his Life, Art and Times, 1971.

Iconography
The majority of portraits, with others of the family, are still at Ickworth, built for the sitter's third son, the 4th Earl of Bristol. These include an anonymous head as a child (Ickworth, 91) inscribed; Mr John Hervey; a miniature as a youth, 1723 (?), (Ickworth, 92) [2] ; a signed agate medallion on a gold and enamel box (Ickworth, 269) by J.L. Natter; a similar head engraved three-quarter face by Cook, 1778, and a three-quarter length (Ickworth, 89) with the key of the vice-chamberlain of the household, an office he held 1730-40, by 'Fairam ye Painter' (John Fayram) to whom there is a payment in the sitter's account book for 1728. [3]

Two youthful portraits in the collection at Melbury are the standing whole length by Enoch Seeman and a bust by Edme Bouchardon showing the sitter with a toga over his left shoulder. The former was brought from Redlynch in 1872; the latter, mentioned by Walpole [4] and done in Rome, is dated 1729 and incised with the artist's name.

In the group of c.1738-39 [5] by Hogarth (Ickworth, 115) sometimes called 'The Holland House Group', Hervey is the central figure wearing the key and pointing to a map held by Henry Fox, afterwards 1st Lord Holland. Others portrayed are said to be the Rev P.L. Wilman, Stephen Fox, afterwards Earl of Ilchester, T. Winnington and the Duke of Marlborough. A good copy by Ranelagh Barret at Melbury (1883 catalogue, 40, and addenda, 1939) is mentioned by Walpole [6] who identified the clergyman, given elsewhere as P.L. Wilman or Villemain, [7] as J.T. Desaguliers (1683-1744). An anonymous engraving (CS 86) shows Lord Hervey and William Pulteney fighting the duel of 1731. [8]

Notes
1. Walpole Society, XVI, p.44.
2. Farrer, p.217.
3. Suffolk Record Society, p.163.
4. Walpole Society, XVI, p.44.
5. Beckett, p.44.
6. Walpole Society, p.44.
7. Paulson, 1971, I, p.458.
8. CS, p.1702. For the duel, see DNB, IX, p.735.