Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759), Composer
In a rare contemporary description, Lady Shaftesbury, writing in March 1745,  found him 'dejected, wan, and dark, sitting by, not playing on the harpsichord ...'. Reminiscences are more plentiful and include Hawkins, 1776: ‘He was in his person a large made and very portly man. His gait, which was ever sauntering, was rather ungraceful, as it had in it somewhat of that rocking motion, which distinguishes those whose legs are bowed. His features were finely marked, and the general cast of his countenance placid, bespeaking dignity attempered with benevolence',  and C. Burney, some 26 years after his death: ‘his general look was somewhat heavy and sour; but when he did smile, it was his sire the sun, bursting out of a black cloud. There was a sudden flash of intelligence, wit, and good humour, beaming in his countenance, which I hardly ever saw in any other'.  To this, the Anecdotes of George Frederick Handel and John Christopher Smith add little save Quin's uncharitable ‘his hands were feet, and his fingers toes'. 
Footnotesback to top
1) Malmesbury, Letters, I, p 2; C. F. Bell in his annotated copy of the Letters, NPG library, confirming O. E. Deutsch, Handel: a documentary biography, 1955, p 703, suggests 1751, not 1745.
2) Sir John Hawkins, A General History ... of Music, 1776, V, pp 412-13.
3) C. Burney, An Account of the ... Commemoration of Handel, 1785, p 36; J. Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century ..., 1812-15, III, p 345.
4) Anecdotes of George Frederick Handel and John Christopher Smith, 1799, attributed to W. Coxe, p 26.
Referencesback to topBridgman 1817
J. Bridgman, An Historical ... Sketch of Knole, 1817.
C. Burney, An Account of the ... Commemoration of Handel, 1785.
F. Chrysander, G. F. Handel, 1858-67.
J. C. Coopersmith, 'A list of Portraits, Sculptures etc. of G.F. Handel', Music and Letters, XIII, 1932.
Anecdotes of George Frederick Handel and John Christopher Smith, 1799, attributed to W. Coxe. 
E. M. Davies (Mrs A. H. King), The Life and Work of Thomas Hudson, 1938 (unpublished MA thesis, University of London).
O. E. Deutsch, Handel: a documentary biography, 1955.
Newman Flower, George Frideric Handel ..., revised edition, 1959.
Sir John Hawkins, A General History ... of Music, 1776.
T. W. I. Hodgkinson, 'Handel at Vauxhall', Victoria and Albert Museum Bulletin, I, 1965.
J. F. Kerslake, 'Roubiliac's "Handel" a terra-cotta restored', Burlington Magazine, CVIII, 1966.
A. H. King, Some British Collectors of Music ..., 1964.
Letters of the First Earl of Malmesbury, 1870.
J. V. G. Mallet, 'Some portrait medallions by Roubiliac', Burlington Magazine, CIV, 1962.
Lord Malmesbury, 'Some Anecdotes of the Harris Family', The Ancestor, I, 1902.
[K. Milnes], Memoir relating to the Portrait of Handel by Francis Kyte, 1829.
Musical Times, December 1893 (Handel Number).
J. Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century ..., 1812-15.
C. J. Phillips, History of the Sackville Family, n.d..
V. Schoelcher, Life of Handel, 1857.
P. A. Scholes, The Great Dr. Burney, 1948.
W. C. Smith, Concerning Handel, 1948.
W. C. Smith, A Handelian's Notebook, 1965.
E. Vogel, 'Händel portraits', Jahrbuch der Musikbibliothek Peters für 1896.
1) Coxe's authorship doubted by British Museum Music Room.
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.