attributed to Sir James Thornhill
chalk and pencil, 1724
12 3/4 in. x 9 7/8 in. (324 mm x 251 mm)
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Artistback to top
- Sir James Thornhill (1675 or 1676-1734), Father-in-law of William Hogarth, decorative painter and politician; MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis. Artist associated with 23 portraits, Sitter associated with 14 portraits.
This portraitback to top
When folk hero John Sheppard was finally captured and condemned to death, Sir James Thornhill paid Sheppard's jailors so that he could draw him shortly before his execution. Sheppard had been convicted for burglary but his escapes from prison had won him fame and popular support. Thornhill's sympathetic portrait circulated widely as an engraving, generating money and prestige for the artist. A poem in the British Journal, addressed to Thornhill, told how:
Thy Pencil brings a kind Reprieve,
And bids the dying Robber live.
More detailed information on this portrait is available in a National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue, John Kerslake's Early Georgian Portraits (1977, out of print).
Related worksback to top
Linked publicationsback to top
- Kerslake, John, Early Georgian Portraits, 1977, p. 249
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 562
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- The Art of Drawing: Portraits from the Collection, 1670-1780 (19 October 2012 - 19 May 2013)