Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Hanway

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

Jonas Hanway (1712-86)

Merchant and philanthropist; apprenticed, 1729, in Lisbon; set up a partnership in St Petersburg and travelled, 1743, with a caravan of woollen goods, into the interior of Russia and Persia; after further travels returned to London and published his adventures; founder of the Marine Society, 1756; established Magdalen charity (Hospital), 1761, governor of the Foundling Hospital and commissioner for victualling the navy, 1762-83; pioneered the umbrella in England.

4301 By James Northcote, c.1785
Oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in. (762 x 635 mm); grey eyes, receding jaw, round-shouldered, elderly appearance, grey wig with two rows of curls to below ears; white collar and cuffs, dark brown coat without collar, open, and matching waistcoat; a chair covered with scarlet cloth, dark green drapery behind; in his right hand a paper and, behind, two upright books, all unlettered; plain brown background; lit from top right.

Correspondence in 1963 with Sir John Molesworth-St Aubyn, Bart, [1] established that NPG 4301 is a smaller version of the three-quarter length signed and dated 1785, in his collection and mislabelled Sir James Ramsay, 4th Bart. Sir John's must be the portrait in Northcote's notebook listed under 'Pictures painted in the year 1785': 'Commisr. Hanway half length—21 0 bought and paid for by Sir William Molesworth for 10. .10'.

Condition: discoloured repaints removed, cleaned and restored on acquisition, 1956.

Collections: received, 1963, by bequest from Sir Orme Sargent; bought Christie's, 14 July 1939, lot 12, as by Angelica Kauffmann, from the collection of Miss Susan Wilberforce and Dr Octavia Wilberforce, relations of Sir Orme; possibly from the collection of William Wilberforce and thereafter by descent through the marriage of his son Bishop Samuel Wilberforce (1805-73) to Emily Sargent in 1828.

Literature: J. Hanway, An Historical Account of the British Trade over the Caspian Sea, 1753; J. Northcote, MS notebook with list of sitters, etc. (NPG library), used by S. Gwynn for Memorials of an Eighteenth Century Painter (James Northcote), 1898; H.T.A. Bosanquet, The Marine Society, A Catalogue of the Pictures . . ., c.1905.


The only certain portraits are all late in life. These include a marble bust by Joseph Dickson completed 1774-75 after a wax by Patience Wright, [2] Marine Society collection, and the whole length by Edward Edwards painted for the Society in 1779, engraved by R. Dunkarton, 1780. [3] Hanway and others apparently, at first, considered the painting a poor likeness. The Northcote portrait, of which NPG 4301 is a smaller version, is of 1785. The engraving by T. Holloway, similar to a medallion by Josiah Wedgwood, appeared in the European Magazine, 1786. An undated portrait by T. Orde was engraved by J. Bretherton. A monument is in Westminster Abbey.

Two further portraits are said to represent the sitter. The first, posthumously inscribed as Hanway, is a three-quarter length by an unknown artist showing a vigorous man holding a letter inscribed For the Honble Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge in London. It was acquired by the National Maritime Museum in 1937 from David Minlore. The other is a small whole length by a follower of Devis which belonged, 1956, to Mrs E.A.E. Donald. The sitter is shown with a map and book illustrations similar to those in Hanway's An Historical Account . . .; [4] the portrait may well prove rightly named.


1. NPG archives.
2. Bosanquet, p.13.
3. Ibid (14).
4. Hanway, I, p.71; II, p.[i].