The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Caroline Wilhelmina of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1683-1737), Queen of George II

An oval by Sir James Thornhill, 1714-15, in the cove of the Queen's bedchamber at Hampton Court is one of a set of four including George I, George II as Prince of Wales, and Frederick, later Prince of Wales. [1] The sitter was next painted by Kneller in 1716, discussed above, and again by Thornhill in the Painted Hall at Greenwich, c.1722. [2] The coronation portrait of 1727 (NPG 369) was supplied by Jervas, the official painter, but perhaps because he failed to satisfy the royal couple, Kneller's portraits of Caroline and her husband seem also to have been used at the accession. The Jervas pair is not represented in the Royal Collection which has only the double portrait of the Queen and the young Duke of Cumberland (Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, 500). A head and shoulders enamel, Christie's, 17 December 1968, lot 50, near the Jervas type, may be the companion miniature to George II of c.1731 mentioned by Vertue 'when the King and Queen were in their forty ninth year' (see George II).
Amigoni's portrait (NPG 4332) is of 1735 but the engraving by A. Van Haecken of 1736 after this artist is of a different type. A corresponding oil in the Scottish NPG, attributed to Amigoni, has a face mask much nearer Jervas. A standing whole length, formerly in the Duke of Fife's collection, exhibited ‘Guelph', 1891 (11) as by Amigoni, is also near the Jervas design. It is more fluid, however, and gives the sitter a remarkably young face. A group of 'the late Queen and her three daughters' begun by Kneller and bought by the Duke of Dorset, was said to have been completed by Amigoni. [3] Another portrait by him, also unlocated, is of the Queen and the Duke of Cumberland. [4] A further painting of them at Hardwick Hall, formerly attributed to Jervas, is perhaps also by Amigoni. [5]
In 1736 there were sittings to Vanderbank for the whole length now at Goodwood, engraved by J. Faber junior, 1739. The derivative at Huntingdon Town Hall sometimes attributed to Gainsborough seems rather to be by his nephew Dupont. [6] The fine terracotta and marble busts by Michael Rysbrack in the Royal Collection may be posthumous. The former is incised and dated 1739. [7] However, in 1732, Vertue lists 'Queen Caroline From the life' [8] and, 1738, a 'Moddel of the Queen vastly like. tho' not done from the life'. [9] The marble, and the companion bust of George were made for the sitter's new library in St James's Palace. [10] Rysbrack was also probably responsible for the statue of Caroline in the gardens at Stowe. [11]
Undated whole length oils include two by Enoch Seeman of c.1730 in the Royal Collection (Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, 511, 512), and a portrait in the Ionides collection, Orleans House, Twickenham, probably by Herman van der Myn who is mentioned by Vertue as painting the Queen in 1728. The handling agrees with his description of the artist's treatment of drapery [12] and is very close to the signed and dated Carew Henry Mildmay, 1733, sold at Sotheby's, 6 February 1957, lot 17. An elaborate whole length was presented to the Shire Hall, Hertford in 1768, possibly from the Cowper collection, Panshanger. An oval profile by Joseph Highmore, c.1735, is at Hampton Court (Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, 518) and an oil in the Judges' Chambers, Warwick, corresponds with a three-quarter face type by this artist engraved by Faber junior. The Queen also appears in Hogarth's sketch of the family of George II, 1733-4 (Sir Oliver Millar, The Tudor Stuart and Early Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1963, 559). The sketch in the National Gallery of Ireland does not seem to be from life.
J. van Gool records seeing in 1751, in London, a portrait of Caroline with the Duke of Cumberland as a boy of seven. [13] Piper suggests this may have been the double portrait at the Hartwell House sale, Sotheby's, 26 April 1938, lot 65, as by Ramsay.

1) E. Croft-Murray, Decorative Painting in England 1537-1837, 1962, I, p 269.
2) Ibid, p 263.
3) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, p 93.
4) Ibid, p 75.
5) J. Woodward, 'Amigoni as Portrait Painter in England', Burlington Magazine, XCIX, 1957, p 22.
6) J. Kerslake, 'Some little-known Portraits in Huntingdon Town Hall', Connoisseur, CXXXV, 1955, p 236f.
7) Exhibited 'Kings & Queens', RA, 1953 (234); 'Eighteenth Century Portrait Busts', Kenwood, 1959 (32).
8) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, p 57, listing works by Rysbrack.
9) Ibid, p 84.
10) M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack Sculptor, 1954, pp 154-6.
11) Ibid, p 136.
12) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, p 34-5.
13) J. van Gool, Nieuwe Schouberg der Nederlantsche Kunstschilders en Schilderessen, 1751, II, pp 44-5.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.