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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708-1778), Prime Minister

‘The Great Commoner'. Statesman; in office 1746-55; paymaster-general of the forces, 1746, and minister at the outbreak of the Seven Years' War when he turned defeat at French hands into the victories of 1759; supported repeal of the Stamp Act; formed a short-lived ministry and created Earl, 1766; retired to Bath; disabled by gout, returned, 1778, to the Lords and collapsed speaking in the celebrated debate on American independence; died a few weeks later at his house at Hayes.
His height was noted by a number of contemporaries, Beckford among them, and Shelburne records

'He was tall in his person, and as genteel as a martyr to the gout could be, with the eye of a hawk, a little head, thin face, long aquiline nose, and perfectly erect.' [1]

'He was scrupulously exact in his dress, and was never seen on business without a full dress coat and tie-wig'. [2]

Footnotesback to top

1) Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, Life of William Earl of Shelburne, 1875, I, p 77.
2) Dictionary of National Biography, XV, p 1251.

Referencesback to top

Joseph Farington, Diary MS, Windsor typescript, Royal Library.

Fitzmaurice 1875
Lord Edmond Fitzmaurice, Life of William Earl of Shelburne, 1875.

Meteyard 1866
E. Meteyard, Life of Josiah Wedgwood, 1866.

Prown 1966
J. D. Prown, John Singleton Copley, The Ailsa Mellon Bruce Studies in American Art, II, Washington, 1966.

Rosebery 1910
Lord Rosebery, Chatham: His early Life and Connections, 1910.

Smith (ed.) 1852
The Grenville Papers, ed. W. J. Smith, 1852.

Tunstall 1938
B. Tunstall, William Pitt, 1938.

Williams 1915
B. Williams, Life of Pitt, 1915.

Whinney 1964
M. Whinney, Sculpture in Britain 1530-1830, 1964.

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.