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The Trial of Queen Caroline 1820

2 of 5 portraits of William Pitt Amherst, 1st Earl Amherst of Arracan

The Trial of Queen Caroline 1820, by Sir George Hayter, 1820-1823 - NPG 999 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

The Trial of Queen Caroline 1820

by Sir George Hayter
oil on canvas, 1820-1823
91 3/4 in. x 140 1/4 in. (2330 mm x 3562 mm)
Given by The Art Fund, 1912
Primary Collection
NPG 999


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Artistback to top

  • Sir George Hayter (1792-1871), Portrait and history painter; son of Charles Hayter. Artist associated with 198 portraits, Sitter associated with 16 portraits.

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This portraitback to top

The 'trial' of Queen Caroline in 1820 was not technically a trial but a parliamentary debate on a bill designed to grant the King a divorce. After separating from George IV, Caroline lived in England until 1814, and then travelled in Europe and the East. Her adulterous relationship with her Italian valet Count Pergami caused a scandal. On George IV's accession in January 1820 Caroline made haste for England to claim her throne as Queen. She was greeted by cheering crowds who, fuelled by their hatred of the King, dubbed her the 'people's queen'. Hayter's painting shows the House of Lords on the sixth day of the trial, with Lord Grey questioning the Italian Majocchi who repeatedly denied any memory of Caroline's sexual indiscretions. Other prominent figures are Caroline herself, Henry Brougham her lawyer and the Duke of Wellington, standing under the left hand balcony. The proceedings ended in a compromise and the anticlimax of Caroline's acquittal, but not before it had provided a feverishly partisan England with one of the last great spectacles of the Regency.

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  • NPG 2662(10): William Adams (study)
  • NPG 2662(14): Charles Arbuthnot (study)
  • NPG 4940: Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick (study)
  • NPG 2662(24): John Cust, 1st Earl Brownlow; Charles Gordon-Lennox, 5th Duke of Richmond and Lennox (study)
  • NPG 2662(11): Thomas Philip de Grey, 2nd Earl de Grey (study)
  • NPG 1695(f): Thomas Denman, 1st Baron Denman (study)
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  • NPG 1695(l): John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon (study)
  • NPG 1695(k): John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon (study)
  • NPG 1695(p): Henry Lascelles, 2nd Earl of Harewood (study)
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  • NPG 1695(g): Henry Richard Fox (later Vassall), 3rd Baron Holland (study)
  • NPG 1695(m): Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool (study)
  • NPG 2662(16): Possibly Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool (study)
  • NPG 2662(7): John Singleton Copley, Baron Lyndhurst (study)
  • NPG 1695(c): Theodore Majocchi (study)
  • NPG 1695(d): Theodore Majocchi (study)
  • NPG 2662(6): Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick (study)
  • NPG 5257: Robert Jenkinson, 2nd Earl of Liverpool (study)
  • NPG 1695(a): Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick (study)
  • NPG 1695(b): Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick (study)
  • NPG 2662(1): Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick (study)
  • NPG 2662(2): Caroline Amelia Elizabeth of Brunswick (study)
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  • NPG 2662(36): Architectural features, right gallery (study)
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  • NPG 1695(t): Group including Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, Charles Manners-Sutton, Venables Vernon Harcourt and others (study)
  • NPG 1695(u): Balcony group (study)
  • NPG 1695(v): Group in left gallery (study)
  • NPG 1695(w): Members of the House of Commons (study)
  • NPG 1695(x): Group of unidentified figures for the right niche (study)

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