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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

George Lyttelton, 1st Baron Lyttelton (1709-1773), Scholar and Whig politician; Chancellor of the Exchequer

Considering his position as prominent parliamentarian and literary figure, portraits are relatively rare. The Reynolds of 1756, [1] destroyed in the Hagley Hall fire of 1926, and West's portrait, which survived, are the only ones recorded in Hoare's catalogue of c.1794-98, datable from his visit to Hagley and his tour of Wales. The Reynolds, first listed in 1766 [2] when next to Lucy Fortescue, his first wife, by Williams, was exhibited Second Exhibition of National Portraits, South Kensington, 1867 (338). The portrait, recorded by Musgrave in 1798, [3] at Wimpole, and mentioned by Scharf, 1879, 'Lord Lyttelton to waist profile to r holding up paper', [4] when reproduced in the catalogue 'English Portraits 1500-1830', Sabin Galleries, 1970 (36), was listed as from the collection of the Earl of Hardwicke, 1888, and later owned by H. V. Yorke. It seems to be a repetition of the West. Another version of the West was engraved by Dunkarton, 1774, when in the possession of Dr Newton, Bishop of Bristol. A bust was in the Temple of Friendship at Stowe, 1745, [5] and a portrait by Alcock is recorded by Musgrave in the house of Dr Johnstone at Worcester, 1796, [6] presumably Dr John Johnstone (1768-1836) who practised medicine there 1793-99. A pastel, nearly full face, artist unknown, at Phillips Son and Neale, 26 April 1855, lot 116, and again at Bonham's, 12 June 1969, lot 226, seems rightly named. A portrait by Calze, at Boconnoc, deriving no doubt from the family of the sitter's first wife Lucy, née Fortescue, is probably not from life.
A conversation by A. Devis, signed and dated 1748, from Mrs Tritton's collection, first seen in the Bourne sale, Sotheby's, 12 December 1934, lot 124, was also at Christie's, 20 November 1964, lot 39. It is said to represent Lyttelton, with his brother and sister-in-law, Lt-Gen. Sir Richard and Lady Rachel Lyttelton. The house in the background, with water, is not the old Hagley house and the present house was not built until 1759-60. A three-quarter length in baron's parliamentary robes but with what appears to be a viscount's coronet and a book Coke on Littleton [7] on the table, was sold at Christie's, 2 July 1954, lot 122 as Lyttelton. It resembles work by William Hoare and could represent Lyttelton if the coronet is inaccurately depicted.

1) Sir Ellis K. Waterhouse, Reynolds (English Master Painters), 1941, p 41.
2) The English Connoisseur, 1766, I, p 71.
3) British Museum Add. MS 6391, f.19v.
4) Sir George Scharf's Trustees' Sketchbooks, xxvi, f.81v.
5) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, 1930-55, III, p 133; Stowe: A Description of the House and Gardens, c.1797, p 34.
6) British Museum Add. MS 6391, f.248v.
7) Mrs Cullen suggests this is Sir Edward Coke's 17th-century commentary on Littleton's treatise on Tenures. Thomas Littleton (1422-81), judge and legal writer, was an ancestor of the sitter, Burke's Peerage, 1860, pp 635-36.


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.