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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Wynn

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

Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, 3rd Bart (1693?-1749)

Grandson of Sir William Williams; assumed name of Wynn, 1719; DCL Jesus College, Oxford, 1732, mayor of Oswestry, 1728, and of Chester, 1732; MP, Denbighshire, 1716-49; leading Tory MP in North Wales, he was implicated in Jacobite rising of 1745; brother-in-law of the Duke of Beaufort.

2614 After a portrait by Michael Dahl, of c.1729 (?)
Oil on canvas, 49 ¾ x 40 in. (1264 x 1016 mm); blue eyes, light brown brows, white wig, fresh complexion; port-coloured coat and waistcoat, white cravat and cuffs, gilt sword hilt; paper in sitter's hand inscribed: An Act for the / more effectual / preventing Bribery / and Corruption in the Election of Members to Serve in Parliament / Brought; [1]gold-figured green drapery to right; greenish-grey background.

Inscribed in lower left corner Sr. W W Wynn Bt. / MP.

In 1727 the sitter's brother's election to Montgomery Borough was petitioned against on the ground that the right of election lay in the freemen of the county town only. Inthe ensuing debate, Wynn supported the right of Parliament in disputed elections. In 1729 he introduced the bill to prevent bribery at elections, which passed into law (Anno II, George II, cap. XXIV), with an amendment by the Lords making the last determination of the House as to the right of election in every constituency final. This provides a terminus and possibly an approximate date for the type.

NPG 2614, on a stretcher with hand-forged nails, is an eighteenth-century copy. A similar portrait was formerly with David Minlore. A whole length version, presumably the prototype, belongs to Sir Watkin Williams Wynn, the present baronet. A slightly different three-quarter length, in which the sitter wears ruffles at his neck and holds a hat in his hand is in the collection of Sir John Carew Pole, Bart at Antony House, Cornwall. [2]

Condition:not relined; a few small patches of retouching, particularly below cravat; cleaned, November 1933.

Collections:bought at the Dillon sale, Sotheby's, 24 May 1933, lot 6; in the collec­tion of the 17th Viscount Dillon at Ditchley Park, 1908, previous history unknown, but possibly always at Ditchley. Another portrait of Wynn, a pastel by Hoare (Ditchley 108), with companion portraits of the 4th and 5th Dukes of Beaufort in Beaufort Hunt dress (Ditchley 106, 107), had evidently been in the house since the 18th century.

Engraved:The type engraved by G. Vertue, 1742, and published by T. Payne, bookseller in Wrexham.

Literature: Catalogue of Paintings . . . at Ditchley, 1908; R. Sedgwick, The History of Parliament, the House of Commons, 1715-1754, 1970.


A portrait catalogued as 'Kneller' was part of lot 80 of the sale of pictures of the late Viscount Fielding removed from Newnham Paddox, Christie's, 1 July 1938; further details are not recorded at the NPG, but if correct, the portrait painted before Kneller's death in 1723 would be the first type. The first at present known is likely to be the Dahl, c.1729, discussed above under NPG 2614. The widely circulated type by Hudson probably follows. This cannot be dated earlier than c.1734,both on the grounds of the imprint of the first state of the mezzotint by J. Faber junior (CS 399) and the progress of Hudson's career. Although first noticed by Vertue in 1733, Hudson may well not have received commissions from important sitters so early, and the date of the type is surely nearer the 1740 inscribed on the head-and-shoulders repetition in the National Museum of Wales. It may have been in production as late as 1753, when a variant with a plain instead of embroidered waistcoat was etched by J. Arberry. Benjamin Wilson's etching, lettered from a painting at Chester also seems to derive from the Hudson. The face is the same but the wig is of a slightly later fashion. Three-quarter length versions of the Hudson are numerous. An oil corresponding with Faber's mezzotint was sold from the collection of R.E.B.Childe, Sotheby's, 28 February 1962, lot 210, and one with plain waistcoast, Sotheby's, 5 February 1947, lot 54 as a 'gentleman by Batoni'. [3] Other examples were at Badminton in 1796; [4] in the collections of J. Smith-Barry, Marbury Hall, Cheshire in 1829; [5] Mrs Nanney-Wynn of Llanfendigaid in 1957; [6] Lt-Col. J.F. Williams Wynne at Peniarth in 1957; [7] S.P. Humphreys-Owen at Glensevern (in 1957, since dispersed), [8] and one has been at Jesus College, Oxford since 1921. [9]

Wynn also sat to Allan Ramsay, whose three-quarter length, signed and dated 1741, is still in the family collection. Also of the 1740s, on costume and age, is the pastel head and shoulders, attributed to Hoare, last seen in the Dillon sale, Sotheby's, 24 May 1933, lot 52; an oil version was lot 35 of the same sale, catalogued as a portrait of Thomas Romney. Wynn is portrayed with the Duke of Beaufort in two paintings by Wootton still at Badminton, the larger showing them at Newmarket. The smaller oil is a part repetition of the design but with a different horse, 'Little David'. Another version of this was at Christie's, 23 April 1975, lot 141 (from the Dick collection). An enamel of Wynn is also in the collection of the present baronet. The effigy in Ruabon church is by Michael Rysbrack, 1754.


1. Sedgwick, pp.543, 545 and references there cited.
2. This version is inscribed Hudson pt, but clearly relates to the Dahl type.
3. From the Wynn collection.
4. BM Add. MS 6391, f.54.
5. Neale, XI (320).
6. Steegman, I, p.227.
7. Ibid, p.238.
8. Ibid, p.254.
9. Poole, III (25).



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