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Sir George Hayter

(1792-1871), Portrait and history painter; son of Charles Hayter

Sitter associated with 16 portraits
Artist associated with 198 portraits
George Hayter, son of the miniaturist Charles Hayter, established a good portrait practice and was appointed Queen Victoria's court portraitist in 1837.

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Robert Phillips

16 February 2021, 12:15

Sir George Hayter (17 December 1792 – 18 January 1871).

George Hayter (who became Sir George in 1842) appears to have had a strained relationship with his father Charles Hayter (1761–1835), a painter of miniatures. Charles was a drawing-master who was appointed Professor of Perspective and Drawing to Princess Charlotte, the only child of the Prince of Wales and Caroline of Brunswick. In 1808 George ran away to sea and having been bought out of his enlistment as a midshipman by his father, he seems to have learned little in the way of prudence as in the following year he secretly married Sarah Milton, who was living under his father's roof (he was 15 or 16, she 28). The marriage remained secret until around 1811.

Together they had three children
Leopold HAYTER born about1810,
Henry HAYTER born about1812 and
Georgine Elisabeth HAYTER born about 813- who married Pierre-Dominique Bazaine older brother of Marshal Bazaine of France.

Around 1816 George Hayter’s wife left him, and he subsequently began the relationship with Louisa Cauty. Louisa was the sister of Elizabeth Cauty who was the long -term mistress of the Bond Street Auctioneer, Harry Phillips. Whilst there are some references to Louisa’s father being Sir William Cauty, this seems to be an affectation. William Cauty married for a second time and his widow was living in Harry’s old house in Fulham, Brandenburg Cottage, at the time of her death in 1842. The entry in the Gentleman’s Magazine referred to her as simply being Mrs Cauty. In addition when two of Elizabeth’s half sisters went to India, their mother, Mrs Cauty and Harry stood as guarantors in accordance with the requirements of the Honourable East India Company.

There seems to be no reference in contemporary directories to a knight called Cauty. The two mistresses’ father was probably William Cauty who was a well known man of the turf.

George Hayter and Louisa Cauty had two children, Angelo Collen (named after the artist Henry Collen, Hayter’s friend and pupil) born in 1819 and Louisa. Angelo Collen Hayter and at least one of Harry and Elizabeth’s children, Henry Dominic Phillips, remained friends and the latter appointed the former to be one of the executors of his will

In 1823 George Hayter, whether through the intercession of Louisa or otherwise, helped out Louisa’s brother, Thomas Henry Horatio Cauty by allowing the exhibition of his painting of the Trial of Queen Caroline to be held at his showroom at No 80, Pall Mall. He (George) was actively involved in the exhibition, however, as the catalogue contained a number of sketches showing the build--up of the overall picture and the identity of the persons in the painting (“upward of 300”) This he did by identifying those portrayed in the painting by numbers and then linking those numbers into the sketches.

Thomas Horatio Cauty, after being made bankrupt got into scrapes in Central America where he and his son became involved in fighting against the filibusters, American insurgents, who were trying to colonise and reintroduce slavery to Central America.

In 1826, Hayter settled in Italy but in 1827,Louisa died in, Florence, Italy, after poisoning herself with arsenic. There seem to be two schools of thought about the death; that it was a bid for attention and therefore an accident or that he had driven her to suicide. Either way he described Louisa as the “love of his life” but his grief was not enough to save him from the opprobrium of the expat community and he was obliged to leave.

Notwithstanding the death of his mistress’ sister, Harry Phillips bought, on June 14 1828 , at an auction held by Christie of lots owned by the Earl of Carysfort, a picture painted by George at Florence, described as “Tartars carrying off Circassian Captives,” and as being “a Picture full of interest and feeling, and brilliantly coloured”.

Subsequently, Hayter returned to England in 1831. Following the precedent of the Trial Of Queen Caroline, Hayter decided to paint the first sitting after the passage of the Reform Bill and completed the “Moving the Address to the Crown on the Opening of the First Reformed Parliament in the Old House of Commons”, on February 5 1833, for which he prepared some 400 portrait studies.

In 1834 he was living close to Bond Street as he was a 9 Stratford Place on the north side of Oxford Street.

Having painted the young Princess Alexandrina,1832-3, Hayter was appointed, when she became Queen, the Queen's Portrait and Historical Painter. Hayter painted several royal ceremonies including her coronation of 1837 when she took her middle name to become Queen Victoria and her marriage of 1840. In 1841, on the death of Sir David Wilkie, Hayter was elevated to Principal Painter-in-Ordinary to the Queen, resulting in some perturbation at the Royal Academy as this appointment had, as a matter of custom. been reserved to the President, who, at that time was Sir Martin Archer Shee.

His estranged wife died on October 6 1844 and on May the 3rd, 1845, he used Christies rather than Harry’s son William Augustus Phillips, (who had been left the eponymous business on his father’s death in 1839) for the sale of a “Catalogue of the valuable collection of works of old masters : formed during a long series of years on the Continent and in the Country and selected under favourable circumstances from different celebrated Galleries, chiefly during a Residence of several years in Italy, by Sir George Hayter, Principal Painter in ordinary to Her Majesty &c. &c. who is quitting his Residence in London for the Continent".


Dr James Burton, FRCP.

11 July 2016, 10:12

30yrs ago I purchased a framed lithograph of Trial of Caroline of Brunswick together with the drawing of the outline of each member of the audience in the House at the trial - each person was identified by name, including the artist seated in a window on the rt hand side, looking at the trial. I found a copy of the painting in the Book of George 1V. My brother did some family research and discovered my maternal grandmother ( surname Hayter) was a decendant of the artist - who also painted the ceiling of Balliol library in Oxford. Sadly we sold the print when we downsized our house, 18 yrs ago, much to my chagrin now, too big for our house said the children !!

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