Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

John Howard (1726?-1790), Prison reformer

For general comments on Howard’s iconography, see above, and W. T. Whitley, Artists and their Friends in England 1700-1799, 1928, II, pp 359-60.

Contemporary Inventions
Medallion head, engraved T. Prattent. ‘No picture of Mr Howard having ever been painted, a gentleman has undertaken to draw one from memory’ (European Mag., X, 1786, p 317). A crude anon. engraving derived from this plate.

Anon. engraving, bust length, wearing a hat, ‘Taken from Nature, March 1788’ from a drawing sent from Dublin - ‘a pencilled likeness ... drawn from the life (unknown to Mr Howard) while at my house, by a young and ingenious artist’ (Gentleman's Magazine, LX, 1790, II, p 685).

Drawing by Thomas Holloway, half-length profile, an upright book in his lap. British Museum (1939.3.3.5). A drawing copied by stealth ‘by an artist of some eminence in his day ... considered by his surviving friends and domestics to be a very striking resemblance’ (J. B. Brown, Memoirs of the Public and Private Life of John Howard, 1823, p 533; and see NPG 97). Engraved reversed 1791 (showing button holes, not buttons) for Dr J. Aikin, A View of the Character and Public Services of the late John Howard, 1792; T. Holloway 1791 (T. Holloway ad vivum delin. et sculp.); the following not reversed and showing buttons: H. Adlard 1822; S. Freeman 1823; Fry 1836 (re-issued 1850); anon. 1855; Blanchard (reversed); R. Starling jr. (including a chair back); G. Scharf (lithograph).

Dr J. Aikin, A View of the Character and Public Services of the late John Howard, 1792, p 209, described the drawing as sketched originally in London, engraved in Dublin, and copied for his book: ‘it is somewhat of a caricature, but has very exactly the expression of his countenance when in a very serious attentive mood’. Sir Richard Phillips in the Monthly Mag. said the portrait of Howard prefixed to Aikin’s Biography ‘was engraved by Manning (a young artist of great promise who died soon after) from a sketch made by himself in St Mary’s Church, Dublin’ (W. T. Whitley, Artists and their Friends in England 1700-1799, 1928, II, p 360). Howard had been in Ireland several times between 1775 and 1788.

Painting by Mather Brown, see NPG 97.

According to Dr J. Aikin, A View of the Character and Public Services of the late John Howard, 1792, p 210, before Howard’s interment in Russia, two plaster casts were taken of his face, by direction of Prince Potemkin – ‘the one for himself, and the other for Mr Howard’s servant; the latter later purchased by the elder Mr Whitebread’ (J. B. Brown, Memoirs of the Public and Private Life of John Howard, p 592).

after 1790
Monument in Kherson, Russia (where Howard died), an obelisk bearing a medallion bust (illus. ILN, LXX, 1877, p 292). An undated Russian medal (reproduction in NPG archive) appears to relate to this medallion portrait.

Posthumous Inventions
Monument by John Bacon sr., whole length all’antica, holding a scroll lettered Plans for the Improvement of Prisons. St Paul’s Cathedral. Engraved J. Basire 1796 (Gentleman's Magazine); H. Adlard 1833; anon. 1828 and 1849. A bust by Bacon is above the entrance to Shrewsbury Prison.

Howard had told his son that should he die abroad ‘let there be only a plain strip of marble placed under that of my wife Henrietta’s, with this inscription - John Howard, died - aged -: My hope is in Christ’ (J. Field, Life of John Howard, 1850, p 380).

Medal by A. B. Wyon, marking the centenary of Howard’s election as Sheriff of Bedfordshire, exhibited RA 1875 (1285) for the Statistical Society (D. B. Brown, A Catalogue of British Historical Medals 1760-1960: The Reign of Queen Victoria, 1987, no.2970).

before 1882
Plaster medallion by T. Butler. Royal College of Physicians, London (illus. Cat. of Portraits, 1964, p 227).

Statue by A. Gilbert, Bedford, Market Hill (M. H. Spielmann, British Sculpture Today, 1901, p 80). A bronze model is in the Tate Gallery (N 5885).

Wedgwood medallion (illus. R. Reilly and G. Savage, Wedgwood the Portrait Medallions, 1973, p 195).

Several history pieces retrospectively celebrated Howard, principally Francis Wheatley’s Howard visiting and relieving the miseries of a Prison, 1787 (private collection), engraved J. Hogg 1790, exhibited Treasure Houses, Washington, 1985 (484); and Thomas Marshall’s Howard visiting prisons in Italy in 1786, 1859 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 2979).

Many compositional drawings were made by George Romney for a painting, Human Misery, suggesting the figure of Howard visiting prisons abroad, see A. Kidson, George Romney, exhibition catalogue, Liverpool, NPG, San Marino, 2002, nos.130-31).

A drawing by John Flaxman for a proposed Howard monument is in the Kunsthalle, Hamburg (illus. D. Bindman, Flaxman, 1979 p 117 no.135).

Doubtful Portraits
Paintings by David Martin in the Dean Orphanage Edinburgh 1972; by H. Burch, exhibited Royal House of Guelph, New Gallery, London, 1891 (327) lent John Harley; miniature of c.1765 in the Royal Collection (R. J. B. Walker, The eighteenth and early nineteenth century Miniatures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1992, no.358). An engraving by W. Hincks 1783 after T. Collopy, lettered John Howard Esqr., shows Bishop Hussey (cf. W. Strickland, Dictionary of Irish Artists, 1913, I, p 192).

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.