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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

William Shenstone (1714-1763), Poet and landscape gardener

Poet; born at The Leasowes, Halesowen, near Birmingham; contemporary of Samuel Johnson at Pembroke College, Oxford, where he studied poetry with lifelong friends Richard Graves the younger and Richard Jago; published anonymously The Judgment of Hercules, 1741, and The Schoolmistress, 1742; Pastoral Ballads issued 1755, and other poems published, 1758, by Dodsley (q.v.), who published the collected writings The Works in Verse and Prose of William Shenstone Esq., 1764-69; inherited The Leasowes, 1724, and devoted much care to laying out the grounds. [1]

‘... in his person he was larger than the middle size, with something clumsy in his form; very negligent of his clothes, and remarkable for wearing his grey hair in a particular manner; for he held that the fashion was no rule of dress, and that every man was to suit his appearance to his natural form.' [2]

Footnotesback to top

1) M. Williams, The Letters of William Shenstone, 1939, p xii.
2) Samuel Johnson, Lives of the most eminent English Poets, ed. P. Cunningham, 1854, III, p 300.

Referencesback to top

Hull 1778
T. Hull, Select Letters between the late Duchess of Somerset, Lady Luxborough ... Mr. R. Dodsley, William Shenstone, Esq. and others, 1778.

Johnson 1854
Samuel Johnson, Lives of the most eminent English Poets, ed. P. Cunningham, 1854.

Williams 1939
M. Williams, The Letters of William Shenstone, 1939.

Williams 1944
M. Williams, 'A Portrait of William Shenstone', Times Literary Supplement, 22 January 1944.

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.