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Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

James Harris (1709-1780), Philosopher, critic, grammarian and politician; MP for Christchurch

Painting by Joseph Highmore, three-quarter length standing by a table. Private collection. Engraved C. Bestland 1801 (see A. S. Lewis, 'Joseph Highmore', D. Phil. thesis Harvard, UMI, 1979, II, no.79).

Painting by F. M. Newton, half length. Offered to the NPG in 1857 from an unrecorded source (Sir George Scharf's Trustees' Sketch Books, 1/25).

Wax medallion head by Isaac Gosset. An engraving by C. Bestland 1801 ‘from a model by Gosset’, describing the sitter as aged 67 [i.e. 1776], incorporates background detail comparable with NPG 186 (front. The Works of James Harris, I, 1801; illus. Connoisseur, XCIII, 1934, p 296); a comparable profile engraved by W. Evans 1803 (Drawn & Engraved by Wm Evans) giving the sitter’s age as 60, shows a different tie to the hair and a more flamboyant neckcloth.

The Gosset wax may also have furnished the pattern for the following profiles of Harris (none of which, however, acknowledged such a source): drawing attributed to Joseph Highmore (Tate Gallery, T4223; illus. Tate Gallery Acquisitions 1986-88, pp 32-33); engravings by F. Bartolozzi 1776 (F. Bartolozzi del. et sculp.) and W. Ridley 1802, giving the sitter’s age as 67 (European Mag.).

Painting by James Barry, Distribution of Premiums in the Society of Arts, part of the Progress of Human Culture, in which Harris appears as a profile head 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.

Painting attributed to Frances Reynolds, see NPG 186.

Medallion portrait (held by a mourning woman) by John Bacon sr. on the Harris monument in Salisbury Cathedral.

Doubtful Portraits
A small half-length painting attributed to Joshua Reynolds and described as having been painted in 1775, sold Greenwood’s, 14 April 1796, lot 66, was listed in the collection of Lord Malmesbury in 1899 (A. Graves & W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, II, p 440).

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.