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Georgiana Cavendish (née Spencer), Duchess of Devonshire

17 of 1413 portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Georgiana Cavendish (née Spencer), Duchess of Devonshire

attributed to Sir Joshua Reynolds
circa 1761
23 in. x 18 1/2 in. (584 mm x 470 mm)
NPG 1041


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This portraitback to top

A broadly painted sketch with a much disfigured surface, NPG 1041 is difficult to assess. It relates directly to the Reynolds double portrait of Lady Spencer and her Daughter, and was sold in 1878 as a sketch for it. [1] Mannings, however, who dates NPG 1041 c.1759 (but the sitter is surely older than two?), reserves slight doubts concerning the attribution; Waterhouse considered it an old copy, [2] and Graves & Cronin noted that ‘the title rests in the statement of Mr Farrer; but there is no record whatever of the picture’. A version, the same size but without the painted oval, was sold Christie’s, 28 November 1969, lot 129.

Footnotesback to top

1) A view last repeated by J. Steegman, Art Quarterly, XXI, 1958, p 249.
2) In his annotated copy of A. Graves & W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds (Paul Mellon Centre, London). K. Garlick described NPG 1041 as ‘a somewhat doubtful sketch’ (Wal. Soc., XLV, 1976, p 68).

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, III, p 922.

Mannings 2000
D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, 2 vols., 2000, no.1680.

Simon 1997
J. Simon, The Art of the Picture Frame, NPG, pp 64-161.

Physical descriptionback to top

Light brown eyes (but her left eye a black blob), fair hair, white head dress with a blue stripe, wearing a blue-striped white dress with blue waistband; red background, grey spandrels; perhaps the hint of a chair lower right. Within a painted oval.

Provenanceback to top

Farrer; John Heugh sale, Christie’s, 10 May 1878, lot 234, bought Wigzell; G.R. Burnett sale, Christie’s, 18 March 1882, lot 114, bought Colnaghi;1 Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, the sitter’s great-grandson,2 by whom presented 1896.

1 A. Mackay to Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, 20 March 1882, confirmed the provenance as ‘formerly the property of Mr Henry Farrer the previous history is unknown. It was bought at the sale of Mr Fs effects - & sold to Mr John Heugh - then to Mr G R Burnett, the distiller at whose sale the 18th March 1882 it was bought’ (NPG archive). But NPG 1041 is not identifiable in the Farrer sales of 1866-68 (L.29211, 29685, 30453); lot 104 in his sale of 15 June 1866 (L.29211) was a portrait of the Duchess by Hoppner ‘in a white dress with landscape background’. The account repeated in R. S. Gower, Bric à Brac, 1888, p 66.
2 Illus. at Gower Lodge, Windsor, in sitting room no.2, R. S. Gower, Bric à Brac, 1888, f.p.6.

Exhibitionsback to top

Fair Children, Grafton Gallery, 1895 (161); Beningbrough 1979-.


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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