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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: George II

The following text is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977 (now out of print). For the most up to date research on the Collection, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text. This can be accessed by following the link with each portrait’s title.

In consulting the following, please note that apart from the reformatting which allows the printed catalogue to be made available on-line the text is as published in 1977. Footnotes in the original edition are given within square brackets.

Contents Foreword Introduction Catalogue scope Abbreviations Arrangement of entries

George II (1683-1760)

George Augustus; King of Great Britain and Ireland 1727-60; only son of George I, his early years spent in Hanover; married, 1705, Charlotte Caroline of Brandenburg-Anspach; came to England with his father and created Prince of Wales, 1714; served at Dettingen, 1743, the last British sovereign to command in the field.

205 After a portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller of 1716
Oil on canvas, 61 ¼ x 23 ½ in. (1556 x 597 mm), youthful face, dark bright eyes, full lips, long wig falling well below his shoulder, left; crimson ermine-edged mantle drawn back over a steel cuirass decorated with gilding, Garter ribbon, white cravat, full white sleeves, white stockings, elaborately decorated boots, crimson drapery held in his left hand at waist; the crown on a table, right; stone floor, dark brown curtain background.

Given to Dahl in the 1888 catalogue, NPG 205 relates to two portraits by Kneller, both signed and dated 1716, at Windsor Castle (Millar, 344) and St James's Palace (Millar, 343). The latter, with the companion portrait of Caroline (Millar, 345, pl.148), [1] was apparently regarded as the official image of George, Prince of Wales, and his spouse. The portrait, after his accession, was repeatedly engraved with the crown added and accessories suitably altered. NPG 205 probably derives from some such source, perhaps J. Smith's engraving of 1727 showing the two-arched crown, but it is debatable whether the painting is of that year, or earlier and altered.

Condition: discoloured and perished varnish; some paint shrinkage in the background along the side stretchers; surface cleaned and varnished twice between 1895 and 1900.

Collections: bought, 1865, without artist's name, from Willis and Sotheran, booksellers of Charing Cross.

Engraved: by J. Simon (CS 73) and J. Smith (CS 103), 1717, both re-issued 1727; also by J. Faber junior, 1724 and G. Vertue, 1727.

368 Studio of Charles Jervas, c.1727
Oil on canvas, 86 ½ x 50 ½ in. (2197 x 1283 mm); blue eyes, fresh complexion, white wig; Garter collar over blue coronation robes, grey patterned suit and breeches; on his left, the crown and orb on a table covered in red cloth; stone floor, the north transept of Westminster Abbey seen through a window, right.

A version of the portrait in the Guildhall Art Gallery commissioned by the corporation in 1727 and noted by Vertue: 'Aug. 1728. The King sat to Mr Jervaise for a picture for the Guildhall'. [2] The type is the coronation portrait intended presumably as the state portrait for the new reign. Soon after the accession Jervas also drew the King and his consort for the (coronation?) medals by John Croker, and Vertue further records that in 1728 the artist was 'imployd. by the Queen to paint the Picture of Prince William. in which proving sucesfull. the Queen sat to him & the King'. [3] The Guildhall commission had been primarily at the instigation of Alderman Barber, and by 1732 Vertue was to note ‘Mr Jervase his Majestys painter has had no success in painting their Majesties pictures & from thence he lost much favour & Interest at Court'. For this reason, it may be supposed, the pair is not in the Royal collection. Other versions of the Guildhall portrait include one at Shire Hall, Hertford, and a copy at Gripsholm, 1950. An equestrian portrait (seeIconography) is also mentioned, the face by Jervas said to be unlike and the horse 'by Wotton'. [4] This must be the portrait at Blickling.

Condition: an old damage in the bottom of the robe has been patch-lined; cleaned and revarnished 1957.

Collections: bought, 1873, with Caroline, NPG 369, as by Shackleton from Graves & Co, the purchaser, at Christie's, 10 May 1873, lots 175 and 174, the latter as by Kneller, from the Clarendon Hotel, Old Bond Street.

670 By Thomas Hudson, 1744
Oil on canvas, 94 x 57 ¾ in. (2188 x 1467 mm); light brown eyebrows, blue eyes with marked pouches, protruding bottom lip, long grey wig reaching to Garter collar; white lace cravat and ruffles, blue ermine robes of state, white hose, grey shoes with diamond buckles; seated on a throne surmounted with the royal cipher, his right foot on a small stool; ornate marble-topped table, left, with crown and orb; drapery of deep scarlet drawn back to frame the throne which is on a dais covered in matching carpet; lit from the left.

An inscription in gold, on the dais, bottom left: THO: HUDSON. PINXIT.

NPG 670, as confirmed by its provenance, is the portrait commissioned from Hudson by Lord Chief Justice Willes and noted by Vertue, February 1744: ‘a picture at whole length of the King put up in the Court of Common pleas—at the expense of Ld. Ch Justice Wills. is thought very like & a good picture. altho. His Majesty did not honour him to set purposely for it—'. [5]Another version, signed and inscribed, is at Goodwood.

Condition: paint somewhat flattened in relining; surface cleaned, lined and varnished between 1883 and 1898; cleaned 1970.

Collections: given 1883, by HM Office of Works, following demolition of the Law Courts at Westminster.

Engraved: by J. Faber junior, 1745 (CS 158), lettered: From the Original in the New Treasury by the Court of Common Pleas at Westminster, put up there by Order of the Lord Chief Justice Willes; And the rest of the Judges of that Court in 1744 . . .

256 By or after Thomas Worlidge, c.1753
Oil on canvas, 49 ½ x 39 ¼ in. (1257 x 997 mm); profile; receding forehead, bulging grey eye, pointed curving nose, compressed lips, full grey wig covering his left ear and resting on his shoulder; red-brown coat, open, and nearly matching waistcoat trimmed with gold brocade, white. lace cravat and wrist ruffles, Garter star; in his right hand, a small rolled paper, his left hand touches the hilt of a dress sword; dark green curtain looped up, top left, over a plain brown background; lit from top right.

The type, with some differences in dress, was etched by the artist, half length, signed and dated 1753 (O'D 48). The handling of NPG256, however, lacks the comparative crispness of the artist's few known portraits likely to have been painted from life, as for example William King, [6] at Oriel College, Oxford. The portrait is probably not ad vivum but not necessarily a copy. There is no evidence that Worlidge was given sittings and the likelihood is that he was not. No other life size oil by him is known. A small and slightly different version on copper, a medium he is now known to have used, is in the Foundling Hospital, [7] source and date of acquisition unknown. It is lighter in colour than NPG 256 and approximately of the same design and size as Houston's mezzotint from which it may well derive.

Condition: worn; discoloured and perished varnish; possible pentimenti or later alterations in the right arm and in the coat jacket; surface cleaned and revarnished, 1892 and 1939.

History: bought, 1868, from J.N. Breun of Greek Street, Soho.

Engraved: by the artist, 1753; also by R. Houston (CS 39) lettered From an Original Painting in the Possession of Thos. Jefferys, presumably Thomas Jefferys of St Martin's Lane (d.1771), map engraver to George III.

Literature: A. Brice, Grand Gazeteer, 1759; W.T. Whitley, Artists and their Friends in England, 1928; J. Woodward, 'Four Royal Portraits at the Walker Gallery', Liverpool Bulletin, IV, 1954; J. Kerslake, 'Some little-known Portraits in Huntingdon Town Hall', Connoisseur, CXXXV, 1955; J.R.F. Thompson and F.G. Rose, 'More Paintings at the British Museum', Connoisseur, CXLI, 1961; R.J.B. Walker, Audley End, Essex: Catalogue of the pictures in the State Room, 3rd edition, 1964.


Before 1714
A portrait, known only from the engraving by W. Faithorne (CS 14) was painted at the Hanoverian court by 'Fountin', i.e. Fountain, 1701 or before. The picture, dedicated to Lord Mohun, then presumably the owner, was 'brought over by the late Earl of Macclesfield', most likely on his return from the mission to invest George with the Garter at Hanover, 23-24 August, 1701. [8] A fine baroque half length in armour, in the Niedersächsische Landesgalerie, Hanover (149), is undated. A portrait in cuirass with ribbon, was engravedby J. Gole and again, reversed, by John Smith in 1706; the original at Herrenhausen, near Hanover, is by 'J. Hirsemen' (J.L. Hirschmann). Though nominated knight of the Garter in absentia and given the title Duke of Cambridge, George came to England only after Anne's death in 1714, being declared Prince of Wales on 22 September.

A later type by Fountain engraved by P. Van Gunst and by Simon (CS 72) shows him with the electoral ermine and the George over a cuirass. An oval head by Sir James Thornhill, 1714-15, in the cove of the Queen's, bedchamber at Hampton Court corresponds with this design. [9] A whole length by this artist is in the Painted Hall, Greenwich. The main portraits for this period, however, are by Kneller, signed and dated 1716, discussed under NPG 205 (seeabove). An engraving by M. Van der Gucht, obviously a derivative, shows a duke's coronet instead of the single arched crown of the Prince of Wales.

Apart from Zincke to whom 'he took more pleasure in setting . . . than . . . to any painter for that his works were beautiful & like', [10] George II disliked having his portrait taken and, as Vertue noted in 1731-32, there was a dismal series of relations with painters. Nevertheless, a number of portraits were attempted, many of them deriving from the Kneller of 1716. [11] Jervas (see NPG 368, above) failed to produce a satisfactory likeness and Joseph Highmore's portraits were produced partly from the Knellers and partly 'by stealth', the King and Queen being drawn 'first on paper at Several Views'. [12] A signed Highmore, stylistically of the 'thirties, now at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, engraved by Faber junior (CS 157), [13] was at Sotheby's, 16 December 1925, lot 129, from the collection of Viscount Falmouth, Mereworth Castle. Another painting in the Mayor's Parlour at York, signed by Highmore, dates from 1755. [14] The King also refused to sit for Hudson, although a seated type (NPG 670, above) is certainly by him. A standing full length owned by Exeter City Council was stated to be 'but lately fixed up . . . the ingenious work and generous present of the celebrated Mr Thomas Hudson heretofore of Exeter'. [15] Vertue states that the Chevalier Rusca successfully made a portrait in 1733, [16] but that the King refused to sit to Kent, [17] the designer and landscape gardener appointed King's painter at Jervas' death in 1739. However, a portrait painted for Sir Thomas Robinson, [18] inscribed with Kent's name and dated 1741 is among a set, including the Queen, at Rokeby. Enoch Seeman also produced versions of the King and his consort (Millar, 508, 513) and payments in the Duchy of Cornwall accounts of 1738 probably relate to these. [19]

The next group of official likenesses is associated with the name of John Shackleton who, as principal painter from 1749, presented a whole length to the Foundling Hospital in 1758. Versions are in Huntingdon Town Hall, [20] the Scottish NPG (221), the Royal collection (Millar, 567, 568), Pruitt collection, USA and in the British Museum, commissioned in 1759 from the artist; he later asked permission to alter the shading to suit the position of the picture. [21] An example of another group, presumably of Hanoverian origin, is the anonymous portrait in the Royal collection which Millar (620) dates to 1740-50. This is the source of the Reynolds of c.1756, [22] Diocese of York, which is near another portrait, signed and dated 1747, at Sotheby's, 21 June 1967, lot 36, by Gottfried Boy (b.1701), a painter at the Hanoverian court. The type was engraved by J.J. Kleinschmidt after Franz Lippoldt (1688-1768). A corresponding oil is in a private collection in Geneva and a copy was at Christie's, 18 November 1949, lot 164, as by Vanloo. A portrait of the King in the library at St James's Palace, ascribed to Charles Philips, was exhibited 'The Countess of Suffolk and her Friends', Marble Hill House, 1966 (12).

For the portrait by Worlidge, seeNPG 256 above. The final and arresting image of the sitter as an old man is by Robert Edge Pine, dated 1759. Originally destined for Maryland, it was bought from the artist in 1784 by Lord Howard de Walden and is now at Audley End. Several copies and versions exist including a reduced whole length at Kensington Palace (Millar, 569) where the portrait is said to have been taken 'unseen by the King as he was speaking to one of his attendants at the top of the great Staircase'. [23] A small variant is in the collection of E.J. Tracy Kelly, and another is in the National Maritime Museum (47-457).

Rysbrack had two sittings which resulted in the statue for the Greenwich Hospital erected 1735, [24] and a terracotta bust and marble, dated 1738, pair with the Queen, produced for her new library at St James's. The terracotta of Caroline is incised and dated posthumously, 1739. Both terracottas, at Teddersley Park, 1953, and now with the marbles in the Royal collection, were probably bought from Rysbrack by Sir Edward Littleton. [25] There is a statue at Stowe. Another at the Royal Exchange, sold after the fire in 1838 and a medallion at the artist's sale, 20 April 1765, lot 15, are now missing. The marble bust incised and dated 1760 in the Victoria and Albert Museum is a repetition of the 1738 type, of which other versions are at Windsor (unsigned) and Christ Church, Oxford. Roubiliac's fine bust made without sittings, Royal collection, shows the King somewhat older. [26] A wax by Gosset bought by Queen Mary at the Clumber sale, 1937, has the air of being from life which Vertue's comments of 1752 apparently confirm. [27] An equestrian statuette by John Van Nost the younger, owned by the late Sir James Mann, [28] is a reproduction of the statue commissioned in 1753 by the corporation of Dublin. Now destroyed, it was completed 1756 and erected on St Stephen's Green, 1758. [29]

Late types include a Chelsea figure with an example in the Los Angeles County Museum, [30] an ivory by Ludwig von Lücke incised and dated 1760, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and a small marble, with David Peel, 1965. [31]

Hogarth, who was first granted and then refused sittings c.1733,produced at about that time the delightful but unfinished sketch of the King and his family (Millar, 559, pl.209). [32] In the preceding year Vertue mentions a further equestrian portrait (seeNPG 368 above) painted for 'Lord Hubbard' (John, 1st Baron Hobart), the face 'by Mr. Jarvis & all the other parts by Mr. Wooton—the Horse etc was much approv'd off, but the Kings not thought to be like . . .’ [33] Highmore also painted the King on horseback but without sittings. A version is at Goodwood. An equestrian type designed to commemorate the Battle of Dettingen, 1743, in which George fought with bravery, was produced by David Morier, the Swiss military and sporting painter newly arrived in England, and engraved by S.F. Ravenet. A large version is at Windsor Castle (Millar, 591) and another was sold from the Brocket collection, Sotheby's, 16 July 1952, lot 78. It was, however, left to Wootton to produce the much more important souvenir, a painting in which George and Cumberland are seen mounted in the foreground with the battle raging to their left. [34] The picture, formerly in the Leeds collection and at Sotheby's, 14 June 1961, lot 17, when described as George IIand the Earl of Holdernesse at Dettingen, is now in the National Army Museum. Its provenance derives from the presence at the battle of Robert, 4th Earl of Holdernesse, whose property presumably passed to the future 5th Duke of Leeds, husband of Amelia, his only surviving child. The knight of the Garter depicted must be Cumberland and Holdernesse, then twenty-five, the handsome young officer on his left. A version at Hopetoun House, Marquess of Linlithgow, is signed and dated 1754. George also appears in the group attributed to Johan Valentin Haidt and associated with the Moravian church (seebelow, Groups, NPG 1356).

There remain for students of iconography, the royal injunctions to Zincke written when the King and Queen were in their forty-ninth year: ‘. . . the Queen advis'd him to be sure to make the Kings picture young, not above 25.—& the King commended his works & admonished him not to make the Queens picture above 28—these courtesies to each other. must be a mystery to posterity who sees them thus depicted without knowing partly the reason' [35] (seeabove, Queen Caroline).


1. For a copy, see Caroline, Queen, NPG 529, above.
2. Vertue, III, p.35; Corporation of London catalogue of pictures, 1898(32); exh. 'Kings and Queens, AD 653-1953', RA, 1953 (226).
3. Vertue, III, pp.17, 33.
4. Ibid, pp. 59, 62, 99.
5. Ibid, p.121.
6. Poole, II, p.88 (27).
7. Nicolson, p.82.
8. GEC, see Macclesfield, and vol. II, appendix B, p.583.
9. Croft-Murray, I, p.269; Vertue, I, p.45; V, p.83.
10. Ibid, III, p.63.
11. Ibid, III, pp.59, 63-64, 99.
12. Ibid, p.54.
13. Woodward, pp.7-14, fig.2.
14. J. Ingamells, Catalogue of the Pictures in the Mansion House, York: I—The State Room, 1970, pp.3-6.
15. Brice, I, p.545; exh. 'Kings & Queens of England', Liverpool, 1953 (31), reproduced souvenir catalogue, p.28.
16. Vertue, III, p.76.
17. Ibid, p.140.
18. Information, O. Millar; Royal Collection 621 is a version.
19. Millar, p.172.
20. Kerslake, p239; on loan from Lord Hinchingbrooke; at Sotheby's, 4 December 1937, lot 189.
21. BM Trustees, Committee Minutes, III, p.758: 16 April 1762.
22. Waterhouse, 1941, p.41.
23. Walker, p.20, pl.ii.
24. Lysons, 1796, IV, p.441 and note 72.
25. Webb, pp.154-56, 216; Exh. 'Kings & Queens', RA, 1953 (228, 234); also 'The Art of ... Rysbrack in Terracotta', Spinks, 1932.
26. Exh. 'English Taste in the Eighteenth Century', RA, 1955-56 (216); Esdaile, 1928, pp.80, 91-92, (pl.xxva) stating it was commissioned.
27. Vertue, III, p.160; Exh. 'Kings & Queens', RA, 1953 (230).
28. Exh. 'Kings & Queens', RA, 1953 (229).
29. Gunnis, p.282.
30. From Hearst Foundation, reproduced Bulletin of Los Angeles County Museum, VI, 1954, p.33; duplicates in BM and V & A (Schreiber collection, 126).
31. Connoisseur, September 1965, reproduced advertisement.
32. Vertue, III, p.68.
33. Ibid, pp.59, 62. This large but little known canvas has presumably been at Blickling since painted.
34. Exh. 'Kings & Queens', RA, 1953, souvenir catalogue pl.60.
35. Vertue, III, p.58. The miniatures referred to are presumably those in the audience chamber at Windsor.



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