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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Warburton

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

William Warburton (1698-1779)

Critic and theological writer, literary executor and editor of Pope; he was articled to an attorney, but took orders 1723; published pamphlets on chancery procedure and on prodigies, 1727; held the living of Brant Braughton, 1728-57; the 'Divine Legation of Moses', 1737-41, plunged him into controversy lasting until 1765; campaigned against Bolingbroke, 1742-55; published an edition of Shakespeare in 1747 and Pope in 1751; dean of Bristol, 1757, and bishop of Gloucester from 1759; in 1762, rejected the views of Wesley in the 'Doctrine of Grace'; preached against the slave trade 1766; he married, 1745, Gertrude Tucker, favourite niece of Ralph Allen.

23 By Charles Philips, c.1737
Oil on canvas, 49 3/8 x 39 ½ in. (1254 x 1004 mm); blue eyes, grey eyebrows, grey wig; dark blue gown, white bands, wrist bands of white shirt just visible; paper headed The divine Legation of Moses,standish and quill on table, dark green chair; plain brown background.

Inscribed, top right, in large brown script: Bp.Warburton.

The first part of Warburton's Divine Legation appeared in 1737, the second in 1741. The coarseness of our portrait and the absence in it (confirmed by x-ray) of the medallion of Pope seen in Burford's mezzotint, might seem to predicate another, perhaps better, version. But some allowance may be due for condition. NPG 23 remains uncleaned—and the medallion probably refers to the sitter's edition of Pope, which did not appear until 1751, four years after Philips' death. No other version is known. The inscription must be of 1759 or later.

Condition:discoloured retouchings in the shadow of the face and his left hand; varnish dark; abraded down the edges; pin-holes at corners; lined and restored 1891; surface cleaned and varnished 1897.

Collections:bought 1857 from G. Robinson, Auction and Estate Agency Offices, 21 Old Bond Street.

Engraved:the type is engraved by Thomas Burford (CS 19).


A profile medallion by H. Gravelot was engraved by this artist and by others (O'D 1-3). A portrait engraved by J. Hall in 1784, [1] head and shoulders only, after an original in the episcopal palace at Gloucester is by William Hoare. According to Musgrave's notes, [2] it was painted for Ralph Allen and depicts Warburton as Dean of Bristol, i.e., c.1757. [3] Another profile drawing and a painting signed and dated 1765 are also by Hoare. They remain at Hartlebury in the library of Warburton's chaplain and friend, Richard Hurd, afterwards Bishop of Worcester. Both portraits were gifts from the sitter, who wrote to Hurd on 6 October 1765, 'Your picture is finished. Hoare says it is much the best he has ever drawn of me. I have ordered it to be sent to London for a frame, by Gosset'; and, three days later, 'I believe you will like the picture, it is really a good one.' [4] Nankivell connects this remark with the drawing, [5] but 'drawn' was not then restricted to its present meaning; unless there is something specific to the contrary in his sources, the remarks probably refer to the oil, which is exceptional in Hoare's oeuvre. The ceiling of the library at Hartlebury also contains a plaster medallion by Joseph Bromfield of Shrewsbury. [6] An engraving by Houbracken (O'D 4) appears to be an independent type rather than a free version of any of the above. Scharf described at Wimpole, the Hardwicke seat, an unattributed and undated portrait: 'To waist and in blue gown and grey wig. face ¾ to r. Eyes dark & bright looking at spectator. Short nose. fair complexion. Rather affected and self-satisfied expression.' [7] The description is not incompatible with the Philips type, but it seems significant that Scharf, who must have known this, does not mention Philips' name. A caricature engraved by J. Lodge after T. Worlidge also represents Warburton, according to a fairly old inscription on the back of an impression in the NPG. [8]A relief attributed to T. King of Bath is in Gloucester cathedral. [9]


1. Impression in the NPG.
2. Add. MS 6391, ff.60-61.
3. Exh. 'A Candidate for Praise, William Mason 1725-97 Precentor of York', York, 1973 (13).
4. Nankivell, p.24.
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. TSB, XXVI, p.77.
8. Diaries of Fanny Burney (extra-illustrated edition, bequeathed by Leverton Harris to the NPG), 1926, I, part 3, p.296.
9. Photograph in R. Gunnis collection, NPG.

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