Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue
Charles Townshend (1725-1767), Whig politician; Chancellor of the Exchequer
Another youthful portrait of Townshend attributed to Reynolds reflects his style of the 1750s and might be associated with these sittings. In this painting, 35 x 27 in., Townshend appears seated three-quarters to the left with his left hand resting on papers. An inscription, upper right, reads: The Right Honble Charles Townshend/Chancellor of the Exchequer/Sir J. Reynolds pinxit. Reproduced in The Graphic 1904, it was sold at Raynham Hall, Christie's, 5 March 1904, lot 91 and appears to be the portrait last seen at Christie's, 3 May 1946, lot 51.  J. Miller's engraving (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-25, 5) seems to derive from this portrait.
A 'Mr. Townsend' also sat in 1757-59 and in 1764-67.  Reynolds seems to have painted at least two later portraits of our sitter, evidently from the same sitting. One version was lent by Earl Sydney to the exhibition of Old Masters at the Royal Academy 1880 (136). This shows him facing left, wearing a fur-edged coat and was either a painted oval or in an oval slip, according to Scharf's sketch in his copy of the catalogue, preserved in the NPG archives.  A pastel copy attributed to Cotes by Steegman  was (1971) in the collection of W. H. Twiston-Davies of Llangunville, and was exhibited at Nottingham University, 'Introducing Francis Cotes, R.A.' 1971 (28). The engraving by Dixon (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83, 34) published in 1770, later equated with the oil in the collection of Lord Charles V. Townshend,  shows the sitter in a loose red cloak but no originals with this dress can be traced. The face may well be based on the Sydney picture with Townshend in the fur-edged coat. In a miniature derived from the Reynolds portraits which was (1949) in the collection of F. H. Yarnold of Worcester, Townshend wears plain dress as in the youthful portrait, but the face clearly relates to the later Reynolds type.
Reynolds' ledger for February 1767 records a payment by the 'Rt. Hon. Charles Townsend' for 'a head which is to made/whole-length', a reference to the full length portrait at Raynham Hall.  In this portrait the head clearly relates to the Sydney type but Townshend wears a chancellor's gown.
1) Sir Ellis K. Waterhouse, Reynolds's 'Sitter Book' for 1755, Walpole Society, XLI, 1968, p 161.
2) Sold as a Gainsborough and bought Blurton, ibid; reproduced in the sale catalogue.
3) Burke, Peerage, 1846, p 961.
4) Photograph in the NPG archives.
5) C. R. Leslie and T. Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1865, I, pp 155, 162, 177, 239, 253, 283.
6) Said to have been at Frognal with the late Hon. Robert Marsham-Townshend but not in the sale; present whereabouts unknown. A. Graves and W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1899-1901, p 984, describe this as a portrait of our sitter's cousin, Charles Townshend, deputy teller of the Exchequer and brother to Lord Sydney, being the second son of the Hon. Thomas Townshend. They cite Reynolds' ledger for April 1783 in which 'Lord Sidney' paid £21 'for his Brother's picture'. Perhaps Graves and Cronin, noting the previous owner of the picture as Earl Sydney, connected this reference with it. The Earl, though, exhibited this picture as our sitter at the RA in 1880 and there is no evidence to suggest that Reynolds' note concerns this painting. Moreover, the face, known from the pastel copy and Scharf's sketch, is very close to the full length at Raynham.
7) J. Steegman, A Survey of Portraits in Welsh Houses, 1957-62, II, p 148. This attribution was not confirmed when it was exhibited, partly because of its poor condition.
8) Christie's, 13 May 1854, lot 47, bought in; A. Graves and W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1899-1901, p 983.
9) M. Cormack, 'The Ledgers of Sir Joshua Reynolds', Walpole Society, XLII, 1970, p 137. This picture was in the Raynham sale, Christie's, 5-7 March 1904, lot 90, but was bought back by the Townshend family after the war.
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.