The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Hayman

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

Francis Hayman (1708-76)

Painter; born and educated in Exeter; best known for his ornamental paintings at Vauxhall; his works included portraits, engravings and sporting pictures; illustrated Hanmer's Shakespeare, engraved by Gravelot, Congreve's poems and Smollett's edition of Don Quixote; scenic painter at Drury Lane Theatre; teacher of Gainsborough, friend of Hogarth and Garrick; largely responsible for the exhibition of works by living British artists, Strand, 1760; president of the Society of British Artists, 1766; founder of the Royal Academy, 1768, and librarian from 1771 until his death.

217 Self-portrait (with Grosvenor Bedford?)
Oil on canvas, 28 ¼ x 36 in. (718 x 915 mm), the artist in brown, a porte-crayon in his right hand, brushes and palette in his left, standing at an easel, sculpture on a table and picture on the wall, behind; the other figure, plump-faced and with large stomach, in lavender suit, is seated, right, and gestures as if commenting on the artist's work; in a studio; lit from top left. Exhibition label ‘NPE', 1867, on the back of the relining stretcher.

Both as a recognizable self-portrait and on stylistic grounds, NPG 217 is certainly of, and by Hayman. The chair appears in several other of his conversation pieces and was clearly his own. NPG 217 may be dated on costume to c.1740-45. Piper, [1] in 1955, expressed doubts about the second figure hitherto believed to be Sir Robert Walpole since, unlike all other portraits, even when in hunting dress, he is not shown with the Garter ribbon. Ralph Edwards [2] subsequently drew attention to the resemblance between this sitter and the man in Hayman's oil of the same date known as 'The Walpole family' now in the Exeter Museum, from the Rosebery collection, previous history unknown. [3] Shown with a lady, presumably his wife, and a boy of perhaps five or six years old, this sitter is also without the Garter and, even accepting a certain uniformity in Hayman's portraits, his identity as Walpole is not convincing. Furthermore, Walpole's children, at the time, would have been adult. Girouard's suggestion of Martin Folkes [4] (see above) is very credible and agrees well with known portraits. However, if the Exeter Museum portrait and the sitter of NPG 217 represent the same man, it is difficult to equate him with Folkes whose only son Martin matriculated in 1737 and died in France probably c.1739-42. A possible candidate, based on provenance, is Grosvenor Bedford whose family was closely connected with Walpole and who was apparently his deputy at the exchequer between 1755 and his death in 1771. His son, Charles, who succeeded him, might be the small boy in the Exeter picture. No certain portraits of either of these two are yet known.

It has been suggested by Miss R.H. Harris [5] that the composition is based on an illustration by Claude Gillot in the fables of Houdard de la Motte. [6]

Condition: Relined at least once before ‘NPE', 1867; surface cleaned and varnished, 1895.

Collections: bought Christie's, 15 June 1866, lot 93, in Farrer's sale, following an earlier unsuccessful bid when the picture first appeared Christie's, I March 1861, lot 28, 'Hayman . . . Interior of the Studio, with the Artist Painting the Portrait of Sir Robert Walpole', bought Farrer. The sale, described as 'a collection of Walpoleana the property of the late Grosvenor Charles Bedford, Esq., of the Exchequer, Whose Family had been connected with that of Sir Robert Walpole, by early private friendship and subsequently Official Employment, from 1700-1797 as deputy usher of the Exchequer . . .', included a number of books printed at the Strawberry Hill Press, portraits of the Walpole family and literary figures such as the Maubert portrait of Dryden, lot 38 (now NPG 1133) and a drawing of Southey by Edridge, lot 40 (now NPG 119). As far as can be checked, the other Walpole portraits are authentic.

Exhibited: ‘NPE', 1867 (262); 'Three Exeter Artists of the Eighteenth Century', Exeter, 1951 (5); 'Painting and Sculpture in England 1700-1750', Liverpool, 1958 (11); 'The Conversation Piece in Georgian England', Kenwood, 1965 (22).

Literature: M. Girouard, 'Hogarth and His Friends', Country Life, CXXXIX, 1966.


The only dated portraits are by Reynolds, 1756, in the Royal Academy; [7] a drawing by Pierre Etienne Falconet, 1769, engraved by D.P. Pariset and in the group 'The Portraits of the Academicians of the Royal Academy' by Zoffany, Royal collection (Millar, 1969, 1210, pls 39, 43), exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1772 (290) and engraved by R. Earlom, 1773. [8] In this painting, according to The Literary Gazette of 1826, the portrait is not entirely from life since Hayman was too volatile to sit, even for a fellow-member of the Royal Academy. [9]

Independent self-portraits include a whole length at an easel, Christie's, 6 November 1953, lot 7, now in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, an earlier three-quarter length from the same sale, also at Exeter and the self-portrait, bottom left, in the group which first appeared, unidentified, at Colnaghi's in 1897. Later owned by Viscountess St Cyres and at Christie's, 20 July 1956, lot 113, it is now in the Mellon collection, and known as 'Lord Chesterfield and his Friends'. [10]

A so-called self-portrait in a black hat, presented by Percy Moore Turner to Exeter City Art Gallery, 1935, remains doubtful and the drawing from the same collection, purchased by Exeter in 1944, seems too late to represent the sitter.


1. NPG archives, memo.
2. The Listener, letter, 22 December 1955, p.1089.
3. Sold Christie's, 5 May 1939, lot 53.
4. Girouard, p 189.
5. Miss R.H. Harris, 'The Conversation Piece of Georgian England', exhibition catalogue, p.19.
6. Antoine Houdard de la Motte, Fables, Paris, 1719, p.220.
7. Exh. 'Francis Hayman', Kenwood, 1960 (48).
8. Exh. 'The King's Pictures', RA, 1946 (50).
9. Millar, 1969, p.154.
10. Exh. 'Francis Hayman', 1960 (15a), as 'The Artist Sketching a Group of his Friends'.


Scientific techniques

Watch our playlist exploring scientific techniques used by the Gallery to unlock the secrets behind our Tudor portraits.

Watch now

Subjects and themes

Search the collection by themes - from pets to weddings!

Discover the Collection

Black History Month

Take a tour exploring our Collection created by Alayo Akinkugbe for Black History Month in 2020.

Take the tour

A Picture of Health

Learn about pioneers in medicine, health and social reform from 1840 to 1920.

Explore the timeline