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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Townshend

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

Hon. Charles Townshend (1725-67)

Second son of Charles, third Viscount Townshend; MP for Yarmouth, 1747-61; lord of the admiralty, 1754, resigned, 1755; privy councillor, 1757; secretary-at-war, 1761; elected for Harwich, 1761; refused to join Grenville's administration and went into opposition; spoke against general warrants, 1764; became paymaster, 1765; chancellor of exchequer in Chatham's ministry, 1766; opposed Chatham's India policy and 'pledged himself to find a revenue in America', 1767; made his famous 'champagne speech', 1767; suspended legislative functions of New York assembly, 1767; established commissioners of customs in America and port duties, but did not live to see results; married Caroline, eldest daughter and coheir of John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll, and widow of Francis Scott, Earl of Dalkeith.

1756 Attributed to Isaac Gosset
Wax medallion, 4 x 33/8 in. (112 x 86 mm); slightly hooked nose,, full chin, wig tied behind with ribbon; neck-band with lace cravat, cloak round his shoulders over coat and waistcoat; dark cream-coloured wax in high relief on a dull murrey-coloured background.

Written in ink on the back of the panel: The Right Hon. / Charles Townshend / Chancellor of the / Exchequer. In a different hand: I give this at my / Death to my Brother / Horace / Georgiana Townshend / Oct 30 182 . . . .

A wax medallion portrait of Townshend by Gosset is listed by Harding at Strawberry Hill c.1804 [1] and is presumably lot 96 of the twenty-second day of the sale, 19 May 1842. The provenance of NPG 1756, which appears to have remained in the Townshend family, suggests that this is another work.

Condition:crack across base of neck; another in drapery at lower left; restored, March, 1968.

Collections:bought, 1915, by the Trustees at the sale of the Sydney Collection, Frognal, Kent, Knight, Frank & Rutley, 10 June, lot 573; bequeathed by the sitter's second cousin, the Hon. Georgiana Townshend (1761-1835), daughter of the first Viscount Sydney, to her brother, the Hon. Sir Horatio (Horace) Powys Townshend (1780-1843); subsequently in the collection of their nephew, John Robert, third Viscount and first Earl Sydney (1805-90); on the death of his widow, Frognal passed to his nephew the Hon. Robert Marsham-Townshend, vendor of the Sydney collection. [2]

Literature:Horace Walpole, Memoirs of the Reign of George II,ed. Holland, 1847; J.H. Jesse, Memoirs of the Reign of George III,1867.


'His countenance was handsome and expressive; his figure commanding and admirably well proportioned.’ [3] 'His figure was tall and advantageous, his action vehement, his voice loud, his laugh louder.' [4]


Probably the earliest type is the anonymous oil in the Dalkeith collection at Drumlanrig, likely to be by a Scottish hand c.1750, showing Townshend holding a manuscript with a classical bust on a table to the left. A 'Mr. Townshend' [5] at to Reynolds on 28 March, 5, 11 April, 16 May, and 20 June 1755; there is a payment 'Mr Charles Townsend £12.12s' before 1761. [5] Waterhouse tentatively associates with these sittings the near-profile Kit-cat portrait in crimson Vandyck dress, inscribed Chas. Townshend / Esq,lot 39 of the Sydney sale, Frognal, Kent, Knight, Frank & Rutley, 7 June 1915. [6] Yet the face differs from established types and this youthful portrait may represent either of our sitter's cousins, Charles Townshend (1728-1810) who in 1797 became 1st Baron Bayning, or Charles Townshend (1734-99) who became deputy teller of the Exchequer in 1758. [7] It should be noted that in contrast to the other portraits of our sitter which are designated 'The Hon.' and 'The Right Hon.' Charles Townshend, (lots 82 and 245) lot 39 is catalogued as 'Chas. Townshend'.

Another youthful portrait of Townshend attributed to Reynolds reflects his style of the 1750s and might be associated with these, sittings. In this painting, 35 x 27 in., Townshend appears seated three-quarters to the left with his left hand resting on papers. An inscription, upper right, reads: The Right Honble Charles Townshend / Chancellor of the Exchequer / Sir J. Reynolds pinxit. Reproduced in The Graphic 1904, it was sold at Raynham Hall, Christie's, 5 March 1904, lot 91 and appears to be the portrait last seen at Christie's, 3 May 1946, lot 51. [8] J. Miller's engraving (O'D 5) seems to derive from this portrait.

A 'Mr. Townsend' also sat in 1757-59 and in 1764-67. [9] Reynolds seems to have painted at least two later portraits of our sitter, evidently from the same sitting. One version was lent by Earl Sydney to the exhibition of Old Masters at the Royal Academy 1880 (136). This shows him facing left, wearing a fur-edged coat and was either a painted oval or in an oval slip, according to Scharf's sketch in his copy of the catalogue, preserved in the NPG archives. [10] A pastel copy attributed to Cotes by Steegman [11] was (1971) in the collection of W.H. Twiston-Davies of Llangunville, and was exhibited at Nottingham University, 'Introducing Francis Cotes, R.A.' 1971 (28). The engraving by Dixon (CS 34) published in 1770, later equated with the oil in the collection of Lord Charles V. Townshend, [12] shows the sitter in a loose red cloak but no originals with this dress can be traced. The face may well be based on the Sydney picture with Townshend in the fur-edged coat. In a miniature derived from the Reynolds portraits which was (1949) in the collection of F.H. Yarnold of Worcester, Townshend wears plain dress as in the youthful portrait, but the face clearly relates to the later Reynolds type.

Reynolds' ledger for February 1767 records a payment by the 'Rt. Hon. Charles Townsend' for 'a head which is to made / whole-length', a reference to the full length portrait at Raynham Hall. [13] In this portrait the head clearly relates to the Sydney type but Townshend wears a chancellor's gown.


1. Harding, II, p.194.
2. GEC, XII,part I, p.593, note (b).
3. Jesse, I, p.399.
4.Walpole, Memoirs,I, pp.340-41.
5. Waterhouse, 1968, p.161.
6. Sold as a Gainsborough and bought Blurton, ibid;reproduced in the sale catalogue.
7. Burke, Peerage,1846, p.961.
8. Photograph in the NPG archives.
9. Leslie & Taylor, I, pp.155, 162, 177, 239, 253, 283.
10. Said to have been at Frognal with the late Hon. Robert Marsham-Townshend but not in the sale; present whereabouts unknown. Graves and Cronin, p.984, describe this as a portrait of our sitter's cousin, Charles Townshend, deputy teller of the Exchequer and brother to Lord Sydney, being the second son of the Hon. Thomas Townshend. They cite Reynolds' ledger for April 1783 in which 'Lord Sidney' paid £21 'for his Brother's picture'. Perhaps Graves and Cronin, noting the previous owner of the picture as Earl Sydney, connected this reference with it. The Earl, though, exhibited this picture as our sitter at the RA in 1880 and there is no evidence to suggest that Reynolds' note concerns this painting. Moreover, the face, known from the pastel copy and Scharf's sketch, is very close to the full length at Raynham (see below).
11. II, p.148. This attribution was not confirmed when it was exhibited, partly because of its poor condition.
12. Christie's, 13 May 1854, lot 47, bought in; Graves and Cronin, p.983.
13. Cormack, p.137. This picture was in the Raynham sale, Christie's, 5-7 March 1904, lot 90, but was bought back by the Townshend family after the war.


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