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Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Charles Dibdin (1745-1814), Songwriter and dramatist

See also L. A. Hall, Catalogue of the Dramatic Portraits in the Theatre Collection of the Harvard College Library, I, pp 364-65, and P. H. Highfill, K. A. Burnim and E. A. Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, IV, pp 375-76 (listing further portrayals of Dibdin in character).

Painting attributed to Samuel De Wilde, half length. Private collection, by descent in the sitter’s family. Engraved W. Ridley 1794 (oval; as after C. Wilde); an anon. reversed print puts the Kearsley head of 1795 on the Wilde body.

Watercolour by Robert Dighton, bust-length oval, signed and inscribed. Sotheby’s, 23 February 1978, lot 78. Engraved anon. 1794. Dighton illustrated some of Dibdin’s songs 1790-95.

Painting by Thomas Kearsley, as a half-length oval. Corporation of Southampton. Exhibited Royal House of Guelph, New Gallery, London, 1891 (268). Presumably the portrait exhibited RA 1795 (188). Engraved B. Smith 1801 (illus. P. H. Highfill, K. A. Burnim and E. A. Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, IV, p 361), and see 1794 above.

Painting by Thomas Phillips, see NPG 103.

Painting by S. J. Arnold, half-length seated; Lovely Nan inscribed on paper on table (a song by Dibdin first performed in 1796). Garrick Club (G. Ashton, Pictures in the Garrick Club, ed. K. A. Burnim & A. Wilton, 1997, no.154).

Painting by A. W. Devis, half length; engraved B. Smith 1803 (for the Professional Life of Mr Dibdin; illus. Country Life, CLXII, 1977, p 1276); J. Heath 1809; W. Hawkins (reversed); H. B. Hall; C. Phillips (for Pocket Selection of Dibdin Songs).

Painting by Samuel Drummond, half length, hair cut short at the sides, engraved W. Ridley 1809 (European Mag.).

Marble bust on a monument by Robert Sievier, classically draped, a mourning figure below and an inscription (author of the national naval ballads). Royal Naval College, Greenwich. Siever exhibited the mourning figure alone British Institution 1827 (467).

Miniature said to show Dibdin was lent by Henry Melton to the Royal Naval Exhibition, Chelsea, 1891 (1897), and an unspecified sculpture was shown by J. Milo Griffiths (2861). An undated and unattributed pastel portrait was in the Dibdin library sale, Worrall & Co., Liverpool, 13-14 May 1987, lot 350.

Doubtful Portraits
Paintings by John Downman, sold Sotheby’s, 29 May 1963, lot 97, from the Ionides collection; attributed to J. T. Seton c.1790, called The Dibdin Family, sold Sotheby’s, 13 July 1988, lot 48 (illus. G. C. Williamson & Lady Victoria Manners, John Zoffany, R.A., his life and works, 1920, f.p.152 as Zoffany; C. Saumarez Smith, 18th-century Decoration, 1993, p 341 as c.1790); unattributed, Royal College of Music (illus. P. Scholes, Oxford Companion to Music, 1938, pl.53); attributed to William Beechey, formerly with Knoedler, London (illus. privately printed pamphlet, W. Roberts, Charles Dibdin by Beechey, 1922); by William Owen, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass. (97.444).

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.