Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Hough

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

John Hough (1651-1743)

Bishop of Worcester; fellow, and later president of Magdalen College, Oxford; ejected by James II reinstated 1688, resigned 1699; Bishop of Oxford, 1690-99, Lichfield and Coventry, 1699-1717, Worcester, 1717-43; refused primacy, 1715.

3685 Miniature, by Simon Digby, Bishop of Elphin
Water-colour on vellum on prepared card, 3 1/8 x 2 ½ in. (80 x 67 mm) oval; black eyes, prominent nose, bluish chin, pale complexion, brown wig to shoulders; white bands, rochet and chimere; brown background, darker on the left.

Inscribed in ink on the back of the card: Dr Huff/ Bishop of Litchfield. [1]The wooden backboard is inscribed: Died 1745/ Huff / Bp of [Winchester?],and in another hand: Painted by Digby/ Bp of Elphin;a label now in the picture dossier, in an 18th century hand: John Hough D D/ Bishop of Winchester [sic]/ Died 1743. (Painted by Digby. BP of Elphin)/ Was made Bishop of Oxford. 1690/ Translated to Litchfield and/ Coventry 1699/ Do. to Worcestor 1717, and in pencil the figure 14 (a lot number?); also a printed slip giving biographical details of the sitter, possibly from a sale catalogue.

Identification rests on the inscription as well as on comparison with other portraits by Digby and of the sitter. Simon Digby (d.1720) was the son of Essex Digby, Bishop of Dromore, Ireland. He became chaplain to the Earl of Ossory in 1668, Bishop of Limerick, 1678, and with the help of Bishop Hough, Bishop of Elphin in 1691. [2] Richard Congreve, chaplain to Bishop Hough, noted that 'Dr Digby . . . drew one of the best likenesses of my Lord' and that he had 'a fine art of painting in miniature'. Examples of his work are in the National Museum, Dublin, [3] and seventy miniatures are known to have appeared in property sold by his descendants. [4] Hough did not stay long in Ireland but his association continued in the years 1678-85 when he was domestic chaplain to the Duke of Ormonde, lord lieutenant of Ireland.

Condition: some discolourations in the wig, bands and chimere due to oxidisation of the whites; the vellum is slightly buckled; repaired 1975; otherwise good.

Collections: presented, 1950, by the Museums and Library Committee, Winchester City Council, who had received it, 1928, from Mrs E.E. Wilde, an honorary curator of Winchester City Museum; previous history unknown.

Literature: S. Shaw, The History and Antiquities of Staffordshire, 1798-1801; 'Table-Talk of Bishop Hough', ed. W.D. Macray, Oxford Historical Society, XVI (Collectanea,II),1890; B. Long, British Miniaturists, 1929; W.R. Buchanan-Dunlop, 'All Saints Church, Worcester', Transactions of the Worcester Archaeological Society, NS, XIII, 1936; D. Foskett, British Portrait Miniatures, 1963.


'There is a picture of my Lord Bishop at Lambeth, by Kneller that cost thirty guineas, which is said to be like, but has lost its colour', wrote Richard Congreve in 1742, 'My Lady Clark has one too by Ryley or Ryland (who, if he had lived, as 'twas thought' would have exceeded Kneller) that my Lord thinks to be the most like him of any, though there are two or three by Jervas at Hartlebury, one of which, a half piece, is not unlike. There was a print taken of him, lately, by Sanby [sic]a bookseller in London, unknown to him, that he says is the dullest thing he ever saw, and has endeavoured to suppress it'. [5] Dr Nash, author of the history of Worcestershire, took a gloomier view: ‘We have not a good portrait of this worthy man: the mezzotinto doth not give an idea of that infinite fund of chearfulness and good-humour, which the bishop enjoyed to his last moments'. [6]

The Riley portrait must have been painted about 1690; the artist died in the following year. It was engraved by R. Williams (O'D 5). The Kneller, still at Lambeth Palace, is signed and inscribed Bp. Hough of Oxford, 1690. It was first engraved in 1811 by Caroline Watson as the frontispiece to Wilmot's Life of Hough. The portraits by Jervas are not now known unless there is some link with the type by the Welsh painter and poet John Dyer (1699-1757). There is a mezzotint, Done from ye Life by J. Faber. A°. 1715; the one detested by the sitter done by the younger Faber when Hough was ninety-one, published c.1742 by the bookseller W. Sandby (CS 192), is given as after Dyer. The corresponding oil at Hartlebury is of 1736, the authority for Dyer's authorship presumably being the Hurd MS there. [7] A version dated 1734, at Magdalen College, Oxford, bequeathed by Hough to his kinsman Theophilus Biddulph was given to the college in 1818 by the latter's widow [8] and another was acquired by the See of Lichfield, 1941. Others were at Sotheby's, 5 February 1969, lot 49, and at Bonhams, 26 June 1969, lot 191. An undated portrait by an unknown hand was acquired by the Bodleian, 1759. [9] A head, engraved by T. Holloway 'from a drawing by Richardson', is conceivably after J. Richardson, the elder, and, if the wig is accurately rendered, looks within a few years of 1720. An anonymous drawing of another type, formerly owned by Horace Walpole, now belongs to W.S. Lewis, Farmington, Connecticut. A bust by the local sculptor and architect T. White was placed in All Saints Church, Worcester, in thanksgiving for the Bishop's gift of £1,000 to its rebuilding, c.1738-42. [10] A monument by Roubiliac, 1746, is in Worcester Cathedral. [11]


1. Below this another faint ink inscription in reverse, as though the miniature had rested on some unblotted writing: the Duch. of S - - -
2. Macray, p.394.
3. Strickland, I, pp.277-78, pl.xx.
4. Ibid.
5. Macray, p.390.
6. Shaw, I, p.277.
7. Nankivell, p.43. Mr Ingamells reports that the portrait is signed or inscribed: Dr Hough/ Bishop of Worcester/ Aged 86 1736/ Dyer;
8. Poole, II, p.226, (54); and a copy (55).
9. Ibid, I, p.97 (242).
10. Gunnis, p.430; Buchanan-Dunlop, p.18.
11. Whinney, p.105, pl.80