Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Herring

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

Thomas Herring (1693-1757)

Archbishop of Canterbury; BA Jesus College, Cambridge, 1713; fellow of Corpus Christi and ordained, 1716, MA 1717, DD 1728; dean of Rochester, 1732; bishop of Bangor, 1737-43; as archbishop of York, 1743-47, raised a large sum of money for the government during the Jacobite rebellion, earning him the soubriquet ‘red Herring'; archbishop of Canterbury, 1747-57; repaired Lambeth and Croydon Palaces, and left benefactions to the sons of the clergy and Corpus Christi College.

4895 Attributed to Thomas Hudson, c.1748
Oil on canvas, 43 ¼ x 36 ¼ in. (1099 x 921 mm); dark blue eyes, grey eyebrows, full bottom lip, cleft double chin, grey wig; rochet and chimere; green leather-backed chair; plain brown background; lit from left.

Inscribed in yellow on right DR. THOMAS HERRING/ LORD ARCHBISHOP OF YORK. Stencils on the top stretcher bar: 994, 191MH, 45JR, 984z(?);also 221 in white chalk, the lot number from Bonham's sale.

NPG 4895 is very near the design engraved by Faber after Hudson 1751, but in the latter there is a letter in his hand, his gown is differently arranged and the chair is different; the handling is, however, close enough to warrant an attribution. As Ingamells points out, sittings are mentioned in a letter from Herring to Duncombe, 18 May 1748, 'Pray see my picture at Hudson's. If you like it, I will order a copy, and sit once or twice, but, I protest, I am tired of that work'. [1] This is after the translation to Canterbury, in which case the inscription may be retrospective. Other versions were at Bishopthorpe until 1971, subsequently with the Church Commissioners and viewed by Ingamells as the possible source of Faber's engraving; with Colonel P.W. Herring, and at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. All are approximately 50 x 40 in..

Condition: losses along edges, slightly reduced in 19th century relining; surface cleaned, losses restored, 1973.

Collections: bought at Bonham's 5 October 1972, lot 221. The portrait first appeared Christie's, 19 May 1950, lot 149, anonymous property; again, 7 October 1960, lot 146.

Literature: Letters from Thomas Herring . . . to William Duncombe . . .,1777; J. Ingamells, 'Hogarth's red Herrings', The Connoisseur, CLXXIX, 1972; J. Ingamells, Catalogue of Portraits at Bishopthorpe Palace, 1972.


The portraits of Herring are discussed by Ingamells in the references given above, particularly in his well-illustrated article in the Connoisseur. There are five types. Herring had promised to sit, and may already have sat, to 'Willes', presumably James Willes (d.1777) for his friend Duncombe, by 16 December 1741. [2] The original, at Lambeth Palace, NPE 1867 (269) has been mistaken for a Hogarth; a version is at Bishopthorpe. [3] A signed and dated head by Mercier, 1743, was last heard of in the collection of H. Worsdell of Finchley c.1930. [4] Hogarth's portrait, which the sitter told Duncombe 'none of his friends could bear', was begun in 1744 and was engraved by B. Baron; it was acquired by the Tate Gallery in 1976. [5] For the Hudson type, 1748, see NPG 4895 above. The last type is by Samuel Webster and was engraved by McArdell. The canvas at Lambeth is signed, and according to Scharf, dated 1757 [6] It too has been wrongly attributed to Hogarth. There is no sculpture and the sitter him­self specifically forbad a monument. [7]


1. Letters, p.17.
2. Letters, p.6o.
3. Bishopthorpe catalogue, p.26; R.B. Beckett, Hogarth, 1949,, p.52.
4. Photograph in NPG archives. The identification is suspect since the sitter wears only gown and bands: for a bishop one would expect rochet and chimere.
5. Exh. 'Hogarth', Tate Gallery, 1971 (121); Bishopthorpe catalogue, p.27, note 6 for further reference. Signed and dated twice, 1744 and 1747, suggesting a major repaint.
6. Ibid, p.27, note 8.
Ingamells, 'Hogarth's Red Herrings', p.21.