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Regency Portraits Catalogue

William Godwin (1756-1836), Philosopher and novelist

Godwin carefully noted in his diary the sittings he had for portraits. These have been published in Rosalie Grylls (Lady Mander), William Godwin & His World, 1953, pp 248-9.

Oil by Thomas Kearsley, 14 sittings ending 29 April 1794 and one in October 1795; stipple engraving by Roberts published 1821, half-length seated arm over chair.

Portrait (?oil) by Dyson, 7 sittings ending 4 March 1794; Dyson, an amateur artist, was one of the four friends who watched at Mary Godwin's death-bed.

Black and red chalk drawing by Lawrence in Kenneth Garlick collection (Kenneth Garlick, ‘Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings and Pastels of Sir Thomas Lawrence’ in Walpole Society Journal, XXXIX, 1964, p 228), seated in profile with Thomas Holcroft during the 'treason' trial at the Old Bailey 5 December 1794.

Another chalk drawing by Lawrence in the British Museum, with 4 sittings ending in October 1795, was published as stipple engraving by Ridley in The Monthly Mirror, 1805, half-length seated looking upwards.

Oil by Chandler in Tate Gallery (1208), 10 sittings ending 15 January 1798, formerly attributed to Opie but as a result of Lady Mander's researches now given to Chandler.

Oil by Northcote (NPG 1236).

Pastel by James Sharples in Bristol Art Gallery, sitting 16 November 1801, profile in blue coat and white stock.

Bust by William Nicholson (phrenologist) made in Edinburgh 21 April 1816, exhibited Scottish Academy 1827.
An etching of this by W. H. Lizars was used as a plate in Sir George Mackenzie's Illustrations of Phrenology, 1820 see Burton Pollin, 'Nicholson's Lost Portrait of W. Godwin' in Keats-Shelley Journal, XVI, 1967, pp 51-60.

The etching is closely related to a drawing by Harlow at Christie's 10 December 1954 (49) and now in a private collection, signed and dated: G. H. H. November 21st 1816.

Oil by Pickersgill (NPG 411).

Drawing by Brockedon (NPG 2515(29)).

Bust by Samuel Joseph, 6 sittings ending 7 July 1832, location unknown.

Watercolour drawing by Sophia Gent in private collection USA is believed to be of Godwin but not mentioned in his diary.

Caricature by 'Alfred Crowquill' (Maclise) in Fraser's Magazine, X, 1834, with a drawing in V&A Museum (F87.13) inscribed: Thoughts on Man; Harriet Martineau described this as a 'pretended likeness ... no notion of Godwin's face could have been formed from that caricature' (Autobiography).

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, 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.