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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Hales

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

Stephen Hales (1677-1761)

Chemist and inventor; presented to the perpetual curacy of Teddington, 1709, later also rector of Porlock, Somerset, and Faringdon, Hampshire; FRS, 1718, DD, Oxford, 1733; published Statical Essays (Vegetable Staticks and Haemostaticks), 1727-33, recording original work in experimental physiology; Admonition to the Drinkers of Gin, Brandy, etc. published anonymously, 1734; Philosophical Experiments, published 1739; invented among other mechanical contrivances, artificial ventilation, processes for preserving provisions at sea and distilling fresh water from the sea; Copley medallist, 1739, clerk to the Dowager Princess of Wales, 1751.

1861 Studio? of Thomas Hudson, c.1759
Oil on canvas, 30 1/8 x 25 in. (765 x 635 mm); dark grey eyes, light eyebrows, thin pale mouth, curled grey-white wig to shoulders; black gown, plain white clerical bands; plain, dark grey-brown back­ground; lit from the left; in a dark painted oval.

Coarsely painted, the handling does not appear to be autograph; NPG 1861 is conceivably an early or contemporary copy. No other version is known.

Condition: unlined; small losses at corners and along upper and lower edges.

Collections: bought 1920, from George H. Gabb and by him, according to a letter, 17 May 1927, 'many years ago' in a sale of miscellaneous pictures, as an unknown portrait by an unknown artist.

Engraved: by McArdell, aged 82, as after Hudson, whereabouts of the original not indicated; the same type, wrongly ascribed to Cotes, mezzotinted by Hopwood, 1810, for one of Dr Thornton's Elementary Botanical Plates.

Literature: The Works of James Barry Esq., Historical Painter, 1809; H.T. Wood, A Note on the Pictures by James Barry in the Great Room of the Royal Society of Arts, 1880; G. Goodwin, James McArdell, 1903; A.E. Clark-Kennedy, Stephen Hales, 1929; K.A. Esdaile, English Church Monuments 1510 to 1842, 1946.


The only single portrait recorded, in addition to the monument by Joseph Wilton placed in Westminster Abbey by the Dowager Princess of Wales, [1] is a poor etching (O'D 3) after a bust, engraver and sculptor unknown. Hales appears, however, in two groups. In William Verelst's painting 'Trustees of the Colony of Georgia receiving the Indians', also called 'The Georgia Council', formerly Shaftesbury collection and now in the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, he is the figure ('The Revd Dr Hale') in bands and cassock standing, lower left, with his hand on the back of the chair. A description on the contemporary frame reads: 'A Representation of the Audience given by the Trustees for Establishing the Colony of Georgia in America, to Tomo Chachi Mico of Yamacran and his Indians on the 3rd day of July in the Year of Our Lord 1734.’ [2] There follow the names of the twenty-four 'Common Councilmen of the said Trustees . . . All portraits: Gift of Trustees to 4th Earl of Shaftesbury' (seeabove, 1st Earl of Egmont, Iconography). A numbered key made by the Earl of Shaftesbury before the picture left St Giles, c.1925, corresponds with numbers on the sleeve or cuff of each sitter. [2] In the second group, James Barry's large painting produced 1777-81, Hales is shown, posthumously, among members of the Royal Society of Arts. [3]

A portrait described as Hales by Knapton, sold by Captain Eric C. Palmer, Christie's, 24 May 1957, lot 33, now at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, is of about 1720 on costume and near Richard Van Bleeck in style. On comparison with authentic portraits, it seems unlikely to represent the sitter.


1. Esdaile, pp.65, 69, pl.126.
2. Clark-Kennedy, p.170; correspondence with Winterthur Museum, 1972.
3. Barry, II, p.341; Wood, pp.10-11.



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