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King George IV

1 of 196 portraits of King George IV

King George IV, by Richard Cosway, circa 1780-1782 - NPG 5890 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

King George IV

by Richard Cosway
watercolour on ivory, circa 1780-1782
3 7/8 in. x 2 7/8 in. (98 mm x 73 mm) oval
Purchased, 1986
Primary Collection
NPG 5890

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Sitterback to top

  • King George IV (1762-1830), Regent 1811-19; Reigned 1820-30. Sitter associated with 196 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Richard Cosway (1742-1821), Miniature painter. Artist associated with 96 portraits, Sitter in 15 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This miniature of the Prince as an elegant, fashion conscious young man may have been commissioned as a gift for the actress Mary 'Perdita' Robinson, the Prince's mistress in 1782. It was one of Cosway's first miniatures for George who appointed him 'Painter to the Prince of Wales' in 1785. Over the following twenty years, Cosway - a supreme connoisseur - was also the Prince's leading advisor on artistic matters.

Linked publicationsback to top

Events of 1780back to top

Current affairs

Anti-Catholic mob led by Lord George Gordon marches on Parliament to protest against the Catholic Relief Act, leading to the outbreak of the Gordon Riots in London. Six days of rioting are ended by the intervention of troops, with 285 people shot dead. Dunning's Motion in Parliament attacks the influence of the crown, suggesting that it has increased and ought to be diminished.

Art and science

Royal Academy moves to Somerset House on The Strand, London. Mrs E. Johnson's British Gazette and Sunday Monitor, the first Sunday newspaper in Britain, begins publication. Potter Josiah Wedgwood invents the pyrometer; a device used for measuring high temperatures.


American War of Independence: British troops under Charles Cornwallis defeat American army under Horatio Gates at Camden, South Carolina. The capture of British army officer and spy John André yields proof that US general Benedict Arnold is in the pay of the British. André is executed in as a spy. Second Anglo-Mysore War in India between Hyder Ali and the East India Company. Bolshoi Theatre of opera and ballet is founded in Moscow.

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