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Edmond Malone

41 of 1413 portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Edmond Malone

by Sir Joshua Reynolds
1778 and circa 1788
29 1/2 in. x 24 1/2 in. (749 mm x 622 mm)
NPG 709


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Inscriptionback to top

An old inscription on wood is attached to the stretcher: Edmond Malone Painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds in 1778- Retouched in 178[9?].

This portraitback to top

According to the painter’s sister Frances, Malone was ‘the greatest friend and admirer of Sir Joshua that he ever had perhaps’, [1] while for Malone ‘from the time of our first being acquainted, [Reynolds] always showed me great kindness and partiality’. [2] Prior recalled that the two men were ‘of similar stature and weight, and although of considerable difference in age, each fond of testing his physical vigour as a pedestrian’. [3] Malone was one of Reynolds’s three executors [4] and the first editor of his literary works (1797).
Malone recalled [5] Reynolds taking ‘very particular pains in drawing my picture. I think I did not in the whole sit for it less than twelve or fourteen times. He painted first in the year 1778, when I sat seven or eight times. [6] Again, about ten years afterwards, he repainted it, making several alterations in the hair, drapery, &c’. [7] The original appearance of NPG 709, prior to the repainting, is preserved in the engraving by Bartolozzi (the third state published in 1787) and remains legible by x-radiography; the hair was fuller on the top of the head, the shoulders and collar were were lower, the background was open sky and in his crooked right arm he carried a quarto volume (which Bartolozzi lettered Old Worthies/IV - illegible on the x-radiograph). It was also in 1786 that Reynolds was asking Malone to ‘run your eye over my Discourse ... in regard to grammatical correctness, the propriety of expression, and the truth of the observations’. [8]
The differing engravings of the portrait led some earlier writers to suppose two distinct portraits. [9] A copy of NPG 709 was in a private collection in New York in 1990, and another was formerly with A. S. Drey, Munich. [10]

Footnotesback to top

1) To Elizabeth Reynolds, 1 December 1796 (Yale Center for British Art, MS Reynolds 57).
2) J. Prior, Life of Edmond Malone, 1860, p 433.
3) Ibid., p 65.
4) Each of whom was left £200 ‘to be laid out, if they should think proper, in the purchase of some picture at the sale of [Reynolds] collection, to be kept for his sake’ ([Malone], Testimonies to the genius and Memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1792, pp 112-13).
5) J. Prior, Life of Edmond Malone, 1860, p 434.
6) Malone paid Reynolds 35 gn. for his portrait in July 1778 (M. Cormack, 'The Ledgers of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1970, p 159); there is no sitter book for that year, but ten appointments with Malone between February and July 1779 may have been sittings (as opposed to social engagements).
7) In August-September 1786 Reynolds pocket book shows five appointments for Malone which may have been sittings.
8) Letter of 15 December 1786; J. Ingamells & J. Edgcumbe eds., The Letters of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 2000, p 177.
9) For example, A. Graves & W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, II, pp 609-10.
10) D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, nos.1180a & B. E. Hamilton, Engraved Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1884, p 179, listed a second portrait then belonging to Col. Anthony Malone.

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, II, pp 609-10.

Mannings 2000
D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, 2 vols., 2000, no.1180.

Waterhouse 1941
E. K. Waterhouse, Reynolds, 1941, p 70.

Physical descriptionback to top

Grey eyes, grey powdered wig; wearing a blue-grey coat and white neckcloth; a red curtain behind him.

Provenanceback to top

By descent from the sitter’s elder brother, Richard, Lord Sunderlin, who married Dorothea Rooper, to the Rev W. H. Rooper (c.1808-95), from whom bought, 19 April 1883,1 by Sir William Agnew,2 and presented by him 1883.

1 Date taken from D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, no.1180.
2 A note of 4 July 1883 in the NPG archive reads: ‘On the steamboat returning from the Tower of London [June 1883] Mr Agnew made an off-hand offer of the portrait’; William Agnew had told Scharf that it was ‘purchased by my firm from Malone’s descendant ... the Rev W. H. Rooper’.

Exhibitionsback to top

Probably RA 1779 (225, 'a gentleman'); Second special exhibition of National Portraits (William and Mary to MDCCC), South Kensington, 1867 (565) lent Rooper; Reynolds, Grosvenor Gallery, 1883-84 (148) lent Agnew, Boswell, NPG, 1967 (96); Reynolds, Plymouth, 1973 (48); Johnson, Arts Council, 1984 (70).

Reproductionsback to top

F. Bartolozzi, 3rd state dated 1787 (book in his right hand, sky behind him); R. Page 1813 (half-length oval with plain background); S. W. Reynolds (as the Bartolozzi); J. C. Armytage 1860 (as the Bartolozzi); J. Scott 1865 (as NPG 709).


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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