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Catharine Macaulay (née Sawbridge)

9 of 17 portraits of Catharine Macaulay (née Sawbridge)

Catharine Macaulay (née Sawbridge), by James Basire, after  Giovanni Battista Cipriani, published 1765 - NPG D31912 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Catharine Macaulay (née Sawbridge)

by James Basire, after Giovanni Battista Cipriani
line engraving, published 1765
11 7/8 in. x 9 1/4 in. (301 mm x 235 mm) paper size
Given by Henry Witte Martin, 1861
Reference Collection
NPG D31912


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Sitterback to top

Artistsback to top

  • James Basire (1730-1802), Engraver. Artist associated with 85 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.
  • Giovanni Battista Cipriani (1727-1785), Painter and engraver. Artist associated with 26 portraits, Sitter in 6 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Catharine Macaulay and her supporters used a wide range of media to position her as a spokesperson and figurehead for the radical cause. This politicised engraving – representing her as the personification of the abstract ideal 'Libertas' (liberty) – was the most widely circulated image of the historian. The design was based on a Roman coin struck by the emperor Brutus after the execution of his sons for conspiracy against the Republic. By linking Macaulay to Brutus, surrounded by a British oak-leaf wreath, the imagery presented her as a powerful champion of republican honour and the promoter of Britain's ancient constitutional liberties.

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D17066: Catharine Macaulay (née Sawbridge) (from same plate)

Linked publicationsback to top

Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top