Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue
Georgiana Cavendish (née Spencer), Duchess of Devonshire (1757-1806), Beauty and leader of Whig society; first wife of 5th Duke of Devonshire
In addition portraits of Georgiana have frequently been confused with those of Lady Elizabeth Foster (her successor as Duchess); W. Roberts, Magazine of Art, XXV, 1901, pp 368-73, began their disentanglement. Their respective likenesses are best established by the documented double portraits by Downman of 1785 and 1787 and Guérin of 1791. Georgiana had golden-red hair, a full face with a firm chin; Elizabeth dark hair, a straight nose, large dark eyes and a slightly receding chin. The principal portraits of the mature Georgiana are those by Angelica Kauffmann (c.1774), Gainsborough (1783), and the three by Reynolds (c.1775, 1784 and c.1785-89).
Pastel by Katherine Read, as a baby (inscribed ‘one year old’) looking at a rose held by her mother. Althorp (Wal. Soc., XLV, 1976, p 66, no.517). Possibly the unattributed miniature, ‘as a child’, exhibited SKM 1865 (923) lent Spencer.
Painting by Joshua Reynolds, whole-length standing, held by her mother. Althorp (D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, no.1677). Engraved J. Watson 1770; R. Purcell; J. S. Paul 1771. Unfinished preparatory sketch at Chatsworth (D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, no.1678); reduced version formerly at Castle Howard (Lord Hawkesbury, 'Catalogue of the Portraits, Miniatures, &c. at the Casle Howard, Yorkshire, and Naworth Castle, Cumberland', Transactions of the East Riding Antiquarian Society, XI, 1904, p 48, no.238). See also NPG 1041.
Painting by Thomas Gainsborough, three-quarter length standing, in white. Althorp (E. K. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, 1958, no.631, pl.76). Painted in Bath. Engraved R. Josey (oval); V. Lhuillier 1877. Oval version sold Christie’s, 29 October 1988, lot 118. Small copy at Castle Howard by G. D. Tomlinson (Lord Hawkesbury, 'Catalogue of the Portraits, Miniatures, &c. at the Casle Howard, Yorkshire, and Naworth Castle, Cumberland', Transactions of the East Riding Antiquarian Society, XI, 1904, p 37, no.21); another sold Lawrence, Crewkerne, 10 November 1983, lot 233.
Pastel by Katherine Read, bust length, wearing a bonnet. Althorp (Wal. Soc., XLV, 1976, p 66, no.513, as aged seven or eight).
Pastel by Katherine Read, bust length, with her brother George and sisters Henrietta and Charlotte. Althorp (Wal. Soc., XLV, 1976, p 66, no.517).
Pastel by H. D. Hamilton, bust-length oval. Chatsworth.
Painting by R. E. Pine, half-length holding a lyre, with flowers in her hair. Althorp (Wal. Soc., XLV, 1976, p 63, no.499, described as aged sixteen).
Painting by Angelica Kauffmann, whole-length seated with her brother and sister (George, 2nd Earl Spencer and Henrietta, Countess of Bessborough). Althorp (illus. Wal. Soc., XLV, 1976, pl.19). The ladies alone, against a slightly different background, engraved W. Dickinson (illus. Connoisseur, L, 1918, p 203). An oval miniature of the Duchess alone, in a rose-coloured dress, described as after Kauffman, sold Christie’s, SK, 14 December 1999, lot 11. See also Hurter 1779 below.
Miniature by Jeremiah Meyer, half length, a veil on her head, unfinished. Royal Collection (R. J. B. Walker, The eighteenth and early nineteenth century Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1992, no.266). Previously attributed to Richard Cosway (cf. G. C. Williamson, Richard Cosway, 1905, f.p.100). A similar bust-length miniature by Meyer, the face alone finished, is also in the Royal Collection (R. J. B. Walker, The eighteenth and early nineteenth century Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1992, no.267); version sold Sotheby’s, 13 February 1978, lot 80.
Painting by Joshua Reynolds, whole-length standing in a landscape. Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif. (25.20; D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, no.327; R. Asleson & S. Bennett, Catalogue of British Paintings at the Huntington, 2001, no.73). Engraved V. Green 1780; S. Freeman 1822 (three-quarter length); S. W. Reynolds; W. Read 1836 (three-quarter length); S. Cousins 1878. Reversed copy sold Christie’s South Kensington, 15 September 1994, lot 17.
Anon. engraving, half-length oval, Court Beauties no.10, pub. R. Baldwin 1776.
Painting by James Barry, Distribution of Premiums in the Society of Arts, part of the Progress of Human Culture, in which the Duchess appears standing centre right. Royal Society of Arts, London (illus. W. L. Pressly, The Life and Art of James Barry, 1981, p 105). Engraved J. Barry 1791. A study for the head appeared in the artist’s sale, Christie’s, 10 April 1807, lot 109.
Drawing by Lady Diana Beauclerk, three-quarter length profile, seated. Mrs D. V. Garstin, America (illus. Wal. Corr., XXVIII, f.p.386). Engraved F. Bartolozzi 1778; R. Laurie 1779; R. Stewart 1779; T. Watson 1782; W. Humphrey; J. Newton; Macklin. ‘A Castalian nymph conceived by Sappho and executed by Myron would not have more grace and simplicity’ (Walpole, 18 April 1778; Wal. Corr., XXVIII, p 386). Watercolour copy in the Royal Collection (illus. Connoisseur, LXIII, 1922, p 1; A. P. Oppé, English Drawings, Stuart and Georgian periods, in the Collection of His Majesty the King at Windsor Castle, 1950, no.60).
Miniature by J. H. Hurter, bust-length oval, closely based on the head by Angelica Kauffmann of 1774, sold Sotheby Parke-Bernet, Monaco, 25-26 June 1976, lot 384. Another dated 1779 is in the Gilbert collection (illus. S. Coffin & B. Hofstetter, The Gilbert Collection, Portrait Miniatures in Enamel, 2000, no.29).
Miniature by J. H. Hurter, bust-length oval, with extravagantly dressed hair. Madresfield. Exhibited British Portrait Miniatures, Edinburgh 1965 (396).
Miniature by J. H. Hurter, bust-length oval. Madresfield (illus. D. Foskett, Collecting Miniatures, 1979, p 335, pl.94g).
Engraving ‘from the life’ by J. K. Sherwin, oval, half-length seated. A derivative engraving pub. E. Hedges 1783 (illus. Magazine of Art, XXV, 1901, p 369).
Miniature by J. H. Hurter, bust-length oval. Madresfield (Sir George Scharf's Sketch Books, 92/13). Hurter also copied the Reynolds portrait of the Duke of the Devonshire in 1782.
Painting by Maria Cosway, whole length as Cynthia from The Faerie Queen (III, 43). Chatsworth (illus. S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, p 104, see no.229). Exhibited RA 1782 (17). Engraved V. Green 1783 (half length).
Miniature by Richard Cosway, bust length in white with a pearl necklace. Royal Collection (R. J. B. Walker, The eighteenth and early nineteenth century Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1992, no.192). Versions at Chatsworth and J. P. Morgan sale, 2nd day, 25 June 1935, lot 275 (illus. G. C. Williamson, Catalogue of the Collection of Miniatures, the property of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1906, II, no.268, pl.LXXXV).
A closely related miniature at Althorp, without the necklace and a greater décolleté, engraved G. T. Stubbs 1782 (illus. Magazine of Art, XXV, 1901, p 368). A similar head appears in the Cosway miniature at Chatsworth showing the Duchess(?) as Venus holding a silver bowl, exhibited Burlington Fine Arts Club 1889 (IV 42, pl.XVII), and in a Cosway miniature in the Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif., of the Duchess ‘holding her infant son’ [but evidently a daughter, either Georgiana b. 1782 or Harriet b. 1785], exhibited Burlington Fine Arts Club 1889 (XL 37, pl.XVII).
The Duchess sat to Cosway frequently and a substantial bill for work executed between 1776 and 1789 remained unpaid in 1820 (S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, p 118 under no.54); see also below, c.1785 and 1786.
Drawing by Thomas Lawrence, bust-length oval. Chatsworth. Drawn at Bath when the artist was thirteen years of age (illus. Pickpocketing the Rich, Bath, 2002, no.54).
Wedgwood medallion, the model attributed to John Flaxman (illus. R. Reilly and G. Savage, Wedgwood the Portrait Medallions, 1973, p 122).
Medallion by Robert Stewart, exhibited Society of Artists, London, 1783 (309).
Miniature by James Nixon, half-length with loose hair, engraved F. Bartolozzi 1783 (illus. Magazine of Art, XXV, 1901, p 368) and I. B. Martin.
Painting by Thomas Gainsborough, whole-length standing. National Gallery Washington (1937.1.93; E. K. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, 1958, no.194, pl.206) formerly at Althorp. Probably RA 1783 (78). Engraved W. W. Barney 1808; H. Meyer from a drawing by J. Jackson 1814; R. B. Parkes. Reduced copy by G. D. Tomlinson 1858 at Castle Howard (Lord Hawkesbury, 'Catalogue of the Portraits, Miniatures, &c, at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, and Naworth Castle, Cumberland', Transactions of the East Riding Antiquarian Society, XI, 1904, p 76, no.623); a three-quarter length copy by John Rising exhibited Royal House of Guelph, New Gallery, London, 1891 (336) lent Lord Hartington.
A closely related half-length drawing attributed to Ozias Humphry dated 1782, sold Christie’s, 16 November 1982, lot 78; a half-length oval miniature copy by Henry Spicer at Chatsworth.
Miniature by Ozias Humphry, half-length seated. Althorp. Exhibited SKM 1865 (949, ‘a profile sketch from nature’) and Burlington Fine Arts Club 1889 (XXXII 43).
In 1784 the Duchess’s extravagant canvassing on behalf of Fox and the Whigs attracted much attention and she was, for example, frequently caricatured by Thomas Rowlandson (M. D. George, British Museum, Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, describes nine within nos.6520-63)
Painting by Joshua Reynolds, seated three-quarter length with her infant daughter, Lady Georgiana. Chatsworth (D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, no.329). RA 1786 (166) Engraved G. Keating 1787. Copy by William Etty in the Royal Collection (Sir Oliver Millar, The Later Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, I, 1969, no.1041); a miniature copy by Samuel Shelley, J. P. Morgan sale, Christie’s, 3rd day, 26 June 1935, lot 440; other unattributed miniature copies exhibited SKM 1865 (2726) lent A. G. Ponsonby, and sold Christie’s, 12 May 1998, lot 20; an enamel by H. P. Bone exhibited RA 1845 (689) and another by William Grimaldi (Rev. A. Grimaldi, A Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings & Engravings by and after William Grimaldi, 1873, p 29, no.246); a pastel copy by William Lane 1809 sold Christie’s, 5-7 March 1904, lot 104 from Raynham (Prince Duleep Singh, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, 1928, II, p 199, no.9).
Drawing by John Downman, oval half length. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (2314.15). Another dated 1784 in the British Museum (19126.96.36.199; illus. R. S. Gower, Bric à Brac, 1888, f.p.82) with an undated half length (19188.8.131.52). Another was listed at Castle Howard (Lord Hawkesbury, 'Catalogue of the Portraits, Miniatures, &c, at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, and Naworth Castle, Cumberland', Transactions of the East Riding Antiquarian Society, XI, 1904, p 33, no.467).
Drawing by John Downman seated in a garden, Lady Elizabeth Foster standing by her. Ickworth. Engraved E. Tily (illus. G. C. Williamson, John Downman, 1907, pl.19).
Curious casts in wax of the Duchess, ‘intended as ornaments for mansions, public libraries, etc’, were being sold by Austin, Drawing Master, St James’s Street, London, in 1785 (Morning Herald, 22 April 1785).
Painting by Joshua Reynolds, unfinished half-length profile, wearing a black hat. Chatsworth (D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, no.328). A ‘finished’ version with Scott & Fowles, New York, 1952.
Painting by George Romney ‘a beautiful whole-length of the amiable Duchess of Devonshire’ was reported in his studio in 1785 (W. T. Whitley, Artists and their Friends in England 1700-1799, 1928, II, p 63). Seven sittings by the Duchess are listed between 1788 and 1794; ‘each time he commenced a new picture, but none proceeded beyond the first sitting’ (Rev. John Romney, Memoirs of the Life and Works of George Romney ... also some particulars of the life of Peter Romney, his Brother, 1830, p 149; H. Ward & W. Roberts, Romney, A Biographical and Critical Essay with a Catalogue Rainsonné of his Works, 1904, II, p 45).
Miniature by Richard Cosway, bust-length, an unfinished head. Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (PD 961-1963; illus. R. Bayne-Powell, Catalogue of Portrait miniatures in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, 1985, p.40); from Lord Wharncliffe.
Painting attributed to John Downman, half length, her left hand holding the brim of her hat. Chatsworth. Exhibited Burlington Fine Arts Club 1932 (155 as ascribed to Downman). Scharf had puzzled over the attribution, settling for Downman in 1870 (Sir George Scharf's Sketch Books, 85/21), as described by the 6th Duke of Devonshire in his Handbook to Chatsworth and Hardwick, 1844, p 209.
Miniature by Richard Cosway, bust-length, wearing large white bonnet. Chatsworth (illus. S. Lloyd, Richard & Maria Cosway, exhibition catalogue, Edinburgh, NPG, 1995, pl.61, no.76).
Three half-length miniatures by Andrew Plimer:
a) seated to right, in white holding a bouquet, sold Christie’s, 27 November 1984, lot 149, from J. P. Morgan (illus. Williamson 1903, f.p.89)
b) to left, sold Christie’s, 27 November 1979, lot 48, from E. M. Hodgkins (illus. Williamson 1903, f.p.22)
c) to right in white, sold Christie’s South Kensington, 27 October 1998, lot 45.
Watercolour by John Downman, whole-length standing, wearing white. Chatsworth (illus. Romantic Women Writers, Wordsworth Trust, 1994-95, no.24). Engraved F. Bartolozzi 1788 (as a half-length oval; reissued 1797) as after ‘an original drawing for the Scenery at Richmond House Theatre’ (illus. Connoisseur,X, 1904, p 130); J. Collyer (illus. G. C. Williamson, John Downman, 1907, p 27). A preliminary drawing, an ‘Outline, the Duchess of Devonshire, 1787. A whole length for the Duke of Richmond’ is in the British Museum (19184.108.40.206/21). A related chalk drawing of the head alone sold Christie’s, 17 October 1971, lot 100. A ‘Head by Downman’ was listed at Hardwick (Lord Hawkesbury, 'Catalogue of the Pictures at Hardwick Hall', Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, XXV, 1903, p 35).
Drawn and engraved from the life by P. Wray, bust length oval wearing a large plumed hat (European Mag.; illus. Magazine of Art, 1901, XXV, p 368).
Portraits of Four Ladies of Quality (Devonshire, Richmond, Duncannon, etc) by John Downman, exhibited RA 1788 (451).
A portrait of the Duchess belonging to the Duke of Portland was sent from Mansfield Woodhouse to London on 23 July 1788, since very tentatively identified with a small whole length attributed to Angelica Kauffmann at Welbeck (Portland Cat. 1936, no.553).
Drawing by Thomas Rowlandson, with her sister Lady Duncannon, singing, accompanied by a lutenist. Yale Center for British Art (B1975.3.141).
Miniature attributed to Samuel Shelley, half length with turban. Sotheby’s, 5 June 2001, lot 5, from the J. P. Morgan collection (G. C. Williamson, Catalogue of the Collection of Miniatures, the property of J. Pierpont Morgan, 1906, II, no.349, pl.CVI, as Andrew Plimer).
Miniature by J-U. Guérin, three-quarter length standing with Lady Elizabeth Foster. Wallace Collection (M177, illus. Cat. of Miniatures, 1980, p 168). Painted at Passy in November 1791. A copy sold Sotheby’s, 20-31 October 1988, lot 244, and a bust-length of the Duchess alone by Horace Hone 1812 in the Gilbert collection (S. Coffin & B. Hofstetter, The Gilbert Collection, Portrait Miniatures in Enamel, 2000, no.25).
Painting by Hugh Robinson, made in Rome (J. Ingamells, Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800, compiled from the Brinsley Ford Archive, 1997, pp 295, 815).
Enamel miniature by Thomas Peat, bust-length oval. Louvre (RF30921; illus. d’Outre Manche, Paris, 1994, p 213, no.132). Another, bust length, facing left in a landscape, sold Christie’s, Geneva, 28 April 1976, lot 151; another, signed and inscribed, at Chatsworth (Treasures from Chatsworth 1979, no.24).
In 1796 the Duchess lost the sight of her right eye, which was said to droop thereafter. In 1799 Elizabeth, Lady Holland, rather wickedly described the Duchess: ‘Her figure is corpulent, her complexion coarse, one eye gone, and her neck immense. How frail is the tenure of beauty’ (Journal, 1908, p 244).
Drawing by [Samuel] Drummond, bust-length oval, two large plumes in her hair; engraved W. Ridley 1800.
Drawing by Henry Edridge, bust length, her hair dressed in a white turban. Holker Hall. The profile somewhat resembles that drawn by Humphry in 1783.
Anon. Engraving ‘from an original Drawing’, half-length profile, hair dressed with a dark band, pub. R. Philips 1805 (Public Characters of 1806; illus. D. M. Stuart, Dearest Bess, 1955, f.p.86).
The Duchess appeared in a number of group portraits, including:
The Finding of Moses painted and engraved by J. K. Sherwin 1789 (‘The Princess Royal is the Egyptian infanta, accompanied by the Duchesses of Gloucester, Cumberland, Devonshire, Rutland, Lady Duncannon, etc ...’, Wal. Corr., XXIX, p 185; illus. V. Foster, The Two Duchesses, 1898, f.p.278).
The Three Witches from Macbeth, pastel by Daniel Gardner of c.1790, with Lady Melbourne on the left and Mrs Dawson Damer on the right. Christie’s, 10 July 1990, lot 85 (illus. G. C. Williamson, Daniel Gardner, 1921, f.p.44). A second version of the composition (illus. G. C. Williamson, Daniel Gardner, 1921, p 36) was listed at Panshanger (cat., 1885, p 475, as by Anne Dawson Damer).
The Shakespeare Gallery, watercolour by Francis Wheatley 1790 (Victoria and Albert Museum; 1719.1871).
Paintings: by Gainsborough; Chatsworth House Trust (E. K. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, 1958, no.195; see W. T. Whitley, Thomas Gainsborough, 1915, pp 199-200); a copy by Gainsborough Dupont in the National Gallery Washington (1970.17.119; J. Hayes, Catalogue of British Paintings, The Collection of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992, pp 66-67 as the Duchess of Devonshire).
attributed to John Hoppner, formerly Hardwick Hall (cat., 1903, p 16, no.89; Sir George Scharf's Sketch Books, 74/52).
Miniatures: attributed to Richard Cosway (illus. G. C. Williamson, Portrait Miniatures, 1897, f.p.46) probably shows Louisa Dorothea Holroyd (G. C. Williamson, Portrait Miniatures, 1897, pp 106, 123, 124, listed Cosway miniatures of Georgiana in the collections of Lord Tweedmouth, F. Woodroffe and Lord de Mauley).
by Andrew Plimer, formerly at Castle Howard (illus. Williamson 1903, f.p.90) copied in enamel by Henry Bone 1795 (see R. Walker, 'Henry Bone's Pencil Drawings in the National Portrait Gallery', Wal. Soc. 1999, no.159) shows Elizabeth, Duchess of Devonshire.
attributed to Ozias Humphry, sold Bearnes, Torquay, 15 January 1986, lot 13 (somewhat resembling a small bust-length oval painting called Downman at Chatsworth).
by Antonio Fattori, formerly at Castle Howard (illus. I. Leveson Gower, A Face without a Frown, 1944, f.p.129).
by Anne Mee, Royal Collection (R. J. B. Walker, The eighteenth and early nineteenth century Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1992, no.865; showing some resemblance to the Duchess’s daughter Harriet, 1785-1862, who married Lord Granville 1809); a drawing apparently after Mee by William Lane, dated 1809, sold Phillips, 13 January 1969, lot P9.
Drawings: by William Lane listed at Castle Howard (Lord Hawkesbury, 'Catalogue of the Portraits, Miniatures, &c, at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, and Naworth Castle, Cumberland', Transactions of the East Riding Antiquarian Society, XI, 1904, p 76, no.633); a similar miniature formerly at Holland House (cat., 1904, p 193, no.4) was described as based on a picture by Angelica Kauffmann in the collection of Claud Ponsonby, but see R. J. B. Walker, The eighteenth and early nineteenth century Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1992, no.865; 'by Lady Elizabeth Foster 1791’, in the collection of Lord Dormer (illus. D. M. Stuart, Dearest Bess, 1955, f.p.86); a curiosity.
This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, 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.