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John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton

38 of 1413 portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

John Dunning, 1st Baron Ashburton

studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds
circa 1774
29 7/8 in. x 24 3/8 in. (760 mm x 620 mm)
NPG 102


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This portraitback to top

‘The portly, positive, black-browed Dunning; whose peculiar ugliness ... can only be understood from Reynolds’ picture of him’, [1] had sat to Reynolds probably in 1772 when there were appointments in February, March, June and November. NPG 102, a studio replica of the now untraced original, [2] appeared in Reynolds’s account book, sometime before August 1775, as ‘[Mr Dunning] given to Sir Elishay Impey’ 35 [gn.]. Impey was in India 1774-83 and there was a family tradition that he had asked Reynolds to paint the portrait ‘in durable colours to stand the climate of India’. [3] Sir Francis Baring, Dunning's brother-in-law, described the portrait as an 'extraordinary likeness', adding that artist and sitter were 'countrymen and much acquainted'. [4]
Copies were sold Christie’s, 30 May 1930, lot 108, and from Bowood in 1952.[5] An oval minature copy by Henry Spicer 1794, inscribed as after Ozias Humphry, sold Bonham's, 8 September 1999, lot 112.

Footnotesback to top

1) C. R. Leslie & T. Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Renolds, 1865, I, p 439.
2) It is now known through the oval engraving by F. Bartolozzi of 1787, see D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, no.538.
3) E. B. Impey to A. Graves, 17 March 1845 (NPG archive).
4) Joseph Farington, Diary, 25 June 1806.
5) See D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, nos.538a and 538b.

Referenceback to top

Graves & Cronin 1899-1901
A. Graves & W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 4 vols., 1899-1901, pp 269-70.

Mannings 2000
D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, 2 vols., 2000, no.539.

Waterhouse 1941
E. K. Waterhouse, Reynolds, 1941, p 64.

Physical descriptionback to top

Blue eyes, powdered wig, wearing councellor’s robes, with white bands.

Provenanceback to top

Sir Elijah Impey; Miss E. B. Impey’s sale, Christie’s, 8 March 1845, lot 105, bought Graves; Thomas Baring,1 by whom presented 1860.

1 The great-nephew of 1st Baron Ashburton and brother of 1st Baron Northbrook. Dymond 1876, p 110, alleged the portrait was formerly in the collection of Lady Ashburton.

Exhibitionsback to top

Second special exhibition of National Portraits (William and Mary to MDCCC), South Kensington, 1867 (894); Portraits of departed Worthies, Exeter, 1873 (67); Bishop Richard Challoner, Westminster Cathedral, 1981 (180).


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

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