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Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

John Henderson (1747-1785), Actor

See also L. A. Hall, Catalogue of the Dramatic Portraits in the Theatre Collection of the Harvard College Library, II, pp 217-19, and P. H. Highfill, K. A. Burnim & E. A. Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, VII, pp 261-63 (listing further portrayals of Henderson in character).

1773
Painting by Thomas Beach, half length. Garrick Club (G. Ashton, Portraits in the Garrick Club, ed. K. A. Burnim & A. Wilton, 1997, no.292). The likeness agrees with the engraved Gainsborough portrait of 1777-80 and Beach also painted Henderson and Jackson in Richard III, exhibited, Society of Artists, London, 1774 (18).

c.1773-75
Painting by Thomas Gainsborough, see NPG 980.

1776
Pastel by Robert Dunkarton, see NPG 1919.

c.1777?
Painting attributed to Thomas Gainsborough, half-length seated at table, an open book in his hand inscribed HAMLET/To be or not to be. Untraced. A copy in the Garrick Club (G. Ashton, Portraits in the Garrick Club, ed. K. A. Burnim & A. Wilton, 1997, no.293) In 1953 Waterhouse believed the head engraved by Jones in 1786 (see below c.1780) derived from this pattern (but the relationship is not exact) and he considered the Garrick Club picture to be after a lost Gainsborough original (E. K. Waterhouse, 'Preliminary Check List of Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough', Wal. Soc., XXXIII, 1953, p 56). W. Armstrong, Gainsborough 1898, p 110, considered this portrait to show Henderson 'some years older' than NPG 980, but Waterhouse thought it looked younger. See below, 1780 Gainsborough.
Reduced oval, half-length versions on panel in the Garrick Club (G. Ashton, Portraits in the Garrick Club, ed. K. A. Burnim & A. Wilton, 1997, no.294 as after Gainsborough), and sold Robinson & Fisher, 16 May 1928, lot 163.

c.1779
Painting ascribed to Benjamin Wilson (but not by him), three-quarter length in black as Hamlet with Richard Wilson as Polonius. Garrick Club (G. Ashton, Portraits in the Garrick Club, ed. K. A. Burnim & A. Wilton, 1997, no.296). The two actors played together in Hamlet in April 1779. A version of this ‘somewhat unsatisfactory picture’ with whole-length figures is in the National Theatre (Maugham Collection; illus. R. Mander & J. Mitchenson et al. Guide to the Maugham Collection of Theatrical Paintings, 1980, no.16).

1780
Painting by Thomas Gainsborough, studying. Untraced. Exhibited RA 1780 (291, see A. Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts, a Complete Dictionary of Contributors and their work from its foundation in 1769 to 1904, III, p 192; W. T. Whitley, Thomas Gainsborough, 1915, p 167). The Garrick Club portrait of c.1777, see above, would fit this brief description; T. Mulvany ed., Life of James Gandon, 1846, p 201, mentioned Henderson's portrait by Gainsborough showing him 'in the act of studying of passage, in which he appears deeply interested'.

Painting by George Romney, as Macbeth, half length in armour with a red mantle, with Banquo and the three Witches. Christie’s, 28 June 1890, lot 116 (H. Ward & W. Roberts, Romney, A Biographical and Critical Essay with a Catalogue Rainsonné of his Works, 1904, II, p 76). Engraved J. Jones 1787 (illus. W. L. Pressly, A Catalogue of Paintings in the Folger Shakespeare Library, 1993, p 227; D. A. Cross, A Striking Likeness, The Life of George Romney, 2000, p 128). For Romney and Henderson, see A. Kidson, George Romney, exhibition catalogue, Liverpool, NPG, San Marino, 2002, pp 216-17.

Reduced versions in the Garrick Club (G. Ashton, Pictures in the Garrick Club, ed. K. A. Burnim & A. Wilton, 1997, no.297), the Folger Shakespeare Library (illus. W. L. Pressly, A Catalogue of Paintings in the Folger Shakespeare Library, 1993, p 225), and sold Sotheby’s, 26 January 1996, lot 76. Versions showing the figure of Macbeth alone sold Anderson, New York, 18 May 1933, lot 29 (three-quarter length); Sotheby’s, 14 July 1976, lot 112 (half length), and Windsor Art Gallery, Canada (half length; illus. Romney in Canada, 1985, p 62).

Miniature by John Smart, bust-length oval, wearing a brown coat. Madresfield Court (illus. G. C. Williamson, The History of Portrait Miniatures, 1904, II, pl.LXXII; The Art of the Country House, Tate Gallery, 1998, no.25).

c.1780
Unattributed painting, half length. Untraced. Engraved anon. 1786 (J. C. Smith, British Mezzotint Portraits, IV, p 1732, no.82 with the comment ‘this picture has been stated to be by Gainsborough’). The head at a comparable angle to the c.1777 Gainsborough listed above, with the body turned more to the right.
Two closely related paintings (or possibly one) showing his left hand resting on an upright folio on a table sold Christie’s, 8 July 1938, lot 119 as Gainsborough and Christie’s, New York, 7 December 1977, lot 55 as attributed to Gainsborough.

Painting by Thomas Gainsborough, engraved J. Jones 1786 (bust-length oval; European Mag., December 1785). E. K. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, 1958, no.361, as a lost original of 1772-73, but Henderson appears decidedly older than in NPG 980.

c.1781?
Wax portrait by E. G. Mountstephen. Victoria and Albert Museum (414.1368.1885; illus. B. Rackham, Catalogue of the Shreiber Collection, Victoria and Albert Museum, III, Enamels and Glass, 1924, pl.79).

1785
Painting by Gilbert Stuart, sketch of the head, as Iago. Theatre Museum (D.26; G. Ashton, Catalogue of Paintings at the Theatre Museum, London, 1992, no.12). Engraved F. Bartolozzi 1786 (oval; illus. P. H. Highfill, K. A. Burnim & E. A. Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, VII, p 255); W. Read. The head was used by Ramberg in his whole length drawing of Henderson as Iago, engraved J. Thornthwaite 1785 (illus. K. A. Burnim & P. H. Highfill, John Bell, patron of British Theatrical Portraiture, 1998, p 55).

c.1785
Miniature by Gilbert Stuart, bust-length oval. Francis Wellesley sale, Sotheby’s, 5th day, 2 July 1920, lot 765 (L. Park, Gilbert Stuart, 1926, no.394, illus. III, p 239; Connoisseur, LI, 1918, p 69). Engraved J. Coyte 1787 as Mr Henderson from an original painting.

Undated
Wax by Samuel Percy in his sale Christie’s, 31 January 1800 (R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1968 ed., p 300; E. J. Pyke, A Biographical Dictionary of Wax Modellers, 1973, p 104).

Doubtful Portraits
Painting attributed to Zoffany, Christie’s, 27 July 1895, lot 31 (sketch in NPG archive); miniature by Daniel Gardner (G. C. Williamson, Daniel Gardner, 1921, p 129, as Wellesley collection); drawing by Romney, Francis Wellesley sale, Sotheby’s, 4th day, 1 July 1920, lot 676.

A painting attributed to William Hamilton in the Garrick Club as Henderson (G. Ashton, Pictures in the Garrick Club, ed. K. A. Burnim & A. Wilton, 1997, no.295) shows Samuel Ireland (cf. F. O’Donoghue, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits in the British Museum, II, p 604).



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.