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Regency Portraits Catalogue

Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson (1758-1805), Vice-Admiral and victor of Trafalgar

The subject is treated at some length in R. J. B. Walker's forthcoming The Nelson Portraits. The basic contemporary portraits, excluding engravings and satirical prints, are as follows:

1777-81
Oil by Rigaud in National Maritime Museum (48-720/8), commissioned by Captain Locker in 1777 and finished in 1781; engraved by Shipster 1797.

1784
Watercolour drawing by Collingwood in National Maritime Museum (nn); silhouette drawn in Antigua after Nelson had lost his hair; Nelson drew a companion portrait of Collingwood 'in revenge’, also in National Maritime Museum.

1794
Miniature by a Leghorn artist in National Maritime Museum, commissioned by Nelson himself and sent home to his wife in December 1794.

1797-8
Drawing by Daniel Orme in a private collection, a study for 'The Surrender of the San Josef' exhibited RA 1798 and now in National Maritime Museum.

Miniature by Robert Bowyer whereabouts unknown but familiar from Worthington's line engraving used for Smirke's plate 2 of the 'Four Great Naval Victories', and from a line and stipple engraving by Scriven published by Bowyer himself after Trafalgar. Bowyer painted another portrait in 1805, see below.

1797-1800
Oils by Abbott in National Maritime Museum, NPG and elsewhere, see NPG 394 and L152(32) [6294].

1797
Pencil and ink drawing by Edridge in Royal Navy School, Holbrook, small whole-length commissioned by Sir Henry Englefield in 1797.

Pencil drawing by Henry Singleton in National Maritime Museum, later worked up into George Keating's mezzotint published 29 November 1798.

c.1797
Watercolour drawing by an unknown artist in Nelson Museum, Monmouth, a rapid sketch probably made by a fellow officer shortly before the attack on Santa Cruz.

1798-9
Oil by Guy Head (NPG 5101).

1798-1800
Oil by an unknown artist in National Maritime Museum (GH 162), half-length to left in blood-stained shirt and bandage intended to represent the wounded victor of the Nile and given by Nelson to Lady Parker.

1798
Gilt bronze bust by Gahagan on loan to National Maritime Museum, probably that exhibited RA 1798 (1050); the Gahagan family continued to produce variants for the next 40 years, several of them in published editions incised on the backs. The original was used by Robert Shout for a basalt bust published by Wedgwood immediately after the Battle of the Nile. This in turn was used for the profile in Davison's Nile Medal.

Wedgwood profile by John de Vaere used as part of the series of naval heroes (Howe, St Vincent and Duncan) and among Wedgwood's most popular products.

Bust made by Mrs Damer in Naples on Nelson's arrival there after the Battle of the Nile. The original is lost but was developed into the colossal bronze offered to the City of London in 1799 but not finished until 1803 and now in the Guildhall. A variant by John Coffee, signed and dated 1806 and probably nearer Mrs Damer's original, is in National Maritime Museum.

1799
Oil by Leonardo Guzzardi in the Admiralty Boardroom, Whitehall. This was copied many times and a late version is by Acquarone, NPG 785. A copy of the head only was made by Matthew Keymer in Yarmouth 1800 and engraved in mezzotint by J. Young.

Pencil drawing by Charles Grignion in National Maritime Museum, drawn in the Hamiltons' house in Palermo in February 1799.

Miniature by a Palermo artist in a private collection, Norfolk. Several versions exist, one with the addition of cocked hat and chelengk given to Hardy and still in the possession of his descendants. A drawing of it in pencil touched with red chalk dated 1802 is in National Maritime Museum.

1800-1
Oil by Beechey in St Andrew's Hall, Norwich, whole-length standing on deck in full-dress uniform, commissioned by the City in 1800 and finished in 1801 in time for the RA exhibition; mezzotint by Edward Bell 1806. Beechey's preliminary oil sketch is NPG L129 [5798], on loan from the Trustees of Mr Hugh Leggatt's estate. Copies of the original whole-length are frequent.

1800
Oil by Füger (NPG 73). A version in uniform and Orders is in Royal Navy Museum, Portsmouth.

Marble bust by Thaller & Ranson in National Maritime Museum (48-720/179), made in Vienna and frequently copied, see Cardosi NPG 2668. The masks in National Maritime Museum and Portsmouth were possibly made for this bust. Plaster squeeze after Thaller & Ranson, sculptor unknown is NPG 2767.

Pastel drawing by J. H. Schmidt in National Maritime Museum (PR 55-303), made in Dresden on the overland journey home from the Mediterranean. Its companion of Lady Hamilton, also in National Maritime Museum, was known by Nelson as his 'guardian angel' and hung in his cabin in the Victory.

Oil by Hoppner in Royal Collection (St James's Palace), whole-length standing in full-dress uniform on a rocky shore, commissioned by the Prince of Wales and received in Carlton House in 1810. One of Hoppner's preliminary oil sketches is National Maritime Museum 35-14. The original was engraved in stipple by Meyer (1805) and mezzotint by Charles Turner (1806), the last being used by Catherine Andras as the basis for her wax effigy in Westminster Abbey. Copies of the original whole-length are frequent. Lane's copy at King's Lynn was the subject of much discussion in Farington's Diary for 1806.

Pencil profile by Simon De Koster in National Maritime Museum, drawn in December 1800 from life and used for frequent engravings. Nelson believed it to be the best portrait of himself and used to recommend Stow's small line vignette of it to admirers anxious for his portrait - 'I rather think a little outline of the head sold at Brydon's Charing Cross is the most like of me.' Several copies are known and Lady Hamilton's copy was used by Boulton for the Trafalgar Medal.

Coade stone bust in a private collection, Surrey, incised: Coade & Sealy. Lambeth/1800 but the sculptor unknown.

1801
Oil by Matthew Keymer in the Town Hall, Great Yarmouth, half-length in vice-admiral's full-dress uniform, painted in Yarmouth while Nelson was waiting for the fleet to sail before the Battle of Copenhagen.

Oil by John Rising in National Maritime Museum (36-5), whole-length standing on shore in vice-admiral's undress uniform, probably painted after Copenhagen and without the artist's having set eyes on the subject.

1802
Chalk and watercolour drawing by John Downman in a private collection Leicestershire, a feeble image adding little to the Nelson iconography.

Pencil and watercolour drawing by Edridge (NPG 879).

1805-6
Wax and wood effigy by Catherine Andras in Westminster Abbey. This remarkable image, dressed in Nelson's own uniform and accompanied by his cocked hat and green eyeshade, was based mainly on the mezzotint of Hoppner's 1800 portrait in the Royal Collection and set up early in 1806. It was considered by Lady Hamilton to be completely lifelike.

1805-10
Marble bust by J. G. Bubb in National Maritime Museum (PR 65/164), possibly ad vivum but more likely a broad interpretation of the Thaller & Ranson Vienna bust of 1800-1.

Medals by Webb, Wyon and others usually making use of the profiles listed, especially Andras and De Koster.

1805
Drawing or oil sketch by Robert Bowyer, whereabouts unknown but familiar from two engravings by Bromley 21 October 1809 and by Turner published 1 February 1823. Whole-length standing by the sea in vice-admiral's full-dress uniform. An oil copy is in the Monmouth Museum.

Wax relief profile by Catherine Andras possibly made from a sitting in December 1800 but produced in large numbers in 1805, usually dated 1805 or 1812; impressions are in most collections. The Andras profile was used by Boulton and Küchler for the Trafalgar Medal.

Pastel by John Whichelo in a private collection Lincolnshire, head and shoulders in profile to left in vice-admiral's undress uniform, believed to have been drawn at Merton in September 1805 but with a distinct affinity to De Koster's drawing of 1800. The drawing was used later by Joseph Pitts for his Parian marble bust published in 1853.

Oil by A. W. Devis in National Maritime Museum (L67-36), half-length to left in vice-admiral's undress uniform, cocked hat with black silk cockade and green eyeshade, one of several versions painted from an original drawing made for Dr Beatty during the autopsy on Nelson's body aboard HMS Victory after her return to England after Trafalgar. An engraving by E. Scriven is used as frontispiece to Beatty's Authentic Narrative, 1806.

Trafalgar Medal. Profile by Boulton & Küchler made from Catherine Andras's wax medallion at the third attempt to find a suitable image, previous profiles being first a concoction by Lady Beechey and second De Koster's ad vivum drawing of December 1800.

Marble bust by Flaxman in the Crown Estate Commissioners' collection, Pall Mall, probably commissioned by Nelson's prize agent Alexander Davison who is known to have ordered Flaxman to make a 'copy from the great Bust' in 1805. It derives closely from the Thaller & Ranson Vienna bust of 1800-1, and was later romanticised even further for Flaxman's memorial to Nelson in St Paul's Cathedral. Several copies of the bust are known and it was used later for Copeland's published Parian marble bust, 1858.

Paste medallion by William Tassie, profile to left done partly from De Koster and partly from Catherine Andras. The wax modello is in the Monmouth Museum.

1809-35
Busts by Chantrey (see NPG 4309).

Miscellaneous
The various 'Death of Nelson' pictures by Devis, Drummond, West and others, and the countless Nelson memorabilia, stretching far into the century and even to the centenary celebrations in 1905 - snuff-boxes, toby jugs, Staffordshire pottery, cameos, rings, etc - are regrettably beyond the scope of this work.

1843
E. H. Baily's 17 ft statue was set upon Railton’s Column in Trafalgar Square.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, 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.