John Horne Tooke

1 portrait

John Horne Tooke

by John Raphael Smith
pastel, exhibited 1811
26 in. x 18 7/8 in. (660 mm x 479 mm)
Purchased, 2005
Primary Collection
NPG 6727

Click on the links below to find out more:

Share this

Sitterback to top

  • John Horne Tooke (1736-1812), Radical politician; MP and philologist. Sitter associated with 49 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • John Raphael Smith (1752-1812), Portrait painter, engraver and pastellist. Artist associated with 185 portraits, Sitter in 1 portrait.

This portraitback to top

This unusual 'sick-bed' portrait shows the radical politician, John Horne Tooke, a year before his death, when he was bed-ridden by chronic illness. Although it appears to be an intimate portrait, it was actually a very public work of art. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy and published as an engraving. Contemporary satirists ridiculed Horne Tooke for his support of the French Revolution. This portrait was no doubt intended to improve his public image by presenting him in a more sympathetic light. Horne Tooke appears as he would to a visitor or friend. He reclines on a very fashionable neo-Classical day-bed, surrounded by books. His special suit was designed to relieve some of the pain of his gout and rheumatism, whilst he remained presentable. At his feet is the third volume of his The Diversions of Purley (the first two volumes were published in 1786 and 1805) indicating his expertise in the study of languages. The portrait stresses Horne Tooke's moral and intellectual strength despite his physical suffering.

Events of 1811back to top

Current affairs

George III's insanity is finally publicly admitted amidst arguments in Parliament over the credibility of his doctors. George, Prince of Wales is appointed Regent despite doubts over his capacity to rule effectively. This prompts the Prince's final split with the Catholic Mrs Fitzherbert, his clandestine wife

Art and science

John Loudon McAdam presents his new road surfacing technique to Parliament. Jane Austen publishes Sense and Sensibility. Sculptor Francis Leggatt Chantrey exhibits at the Royal Academy for the first time with a celebrated bust of the radical John Horne Tooke.


Battle of Albuera; British invade French-held Badajoz in Spain under William Carr Beresford and are victorious over Marshal Soult. Java captured.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.


How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.