by Sir Joshua Reynolds
oil on canvas, circa 1756-1757
50 1/8 in. x 40 1/8 in. (1272 mm x 1018 mm) overall
Purchased with help from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the Dame Helen Gardner Bequest, 1999
Click on the links below to find out more:
Sitterback to top
- Horatio ('Horace') Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717-1797), Writer and collector. Sitter associated with 20 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Painter and first President of the Royal Academy. Artist associated with 1413 portraits, Sitter associated with 38 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This portrait by Reynolds was given by the sitter to Grosvenor Bedford, Walpole's deputy at the Exchequer. One contemporary observer described the portrait as 'very like' but 'a little too plump'; another noted how Walpole had a complexion of 'a most unhealthy paleness', though the portrait's pallor may be due in part to Reynolds's notorious use of fugitive pigments. Walpole is shown with a print of the ancient Roman marble eagle he had acquired in 1745.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 470
Events of 1756back to top
Current affairsGovernment falls after criticism of its handling of the Seven Years War. Prime Minister Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle is succeeded by William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire, who forms a ministry effectively run by William Pitt the Elder.
Art and scienceSatiristist Thomas Rowlandson is born in Old Jewry in the City of London. His main rival James Gillray is born exactly a month later in Chelsea. Completion of William Edwards' Old Bridge, Pontypridd; the longest single span bridge in Britain for the next forty years..
International'Black Hole of Calcutta': a group of British prisoners, including East India Company servant John Zephaniah Holwell, are locked in a small, overcrowded dungeon overnight when Fort William in Calcutta is captured by troops of the Nawab of Bengal. Holwell claims 123 of the 146 prisoners died. Outbreak of the Seven Years War in which Britain, Hanover, Prussia and Denmark are pitted against France, Austria, Russia and Sweden.
See this portrait
On display in Room 12 at the National Portrait Gallery