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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773), Statesman

A portrait by Jean Baptiste Van Loo over a door of the Tapestry Room at Hagley [1] dates presumably from the artist's English period 1737-42; a medal by J. A. Dassier is of 1743 [2] and there are sittings to Louis François Roubiliac, c.1745. A plaster was among fifteen items bought at the sculptor's posthumous sale, 12-14 May 1762, and presented by Dr Matthew Maty, then librarian, to the British Museum; [3] it corresponds apparently with a marble signed and dated 1745, formerly in the collection of Sir E. A. Brotherton. [4] A somewhat slight oil by Benjamin Wilson, signed and dated 1752, is at Temple Newsam.
The fine naturalistic marble head by Joseph Wilton incised: I. WILTON: fecit: ad Vivum. 1757. [5] is in the British Museum; another version is in the Rosebery collection, Dalmeny. Following the portrait by Ramsay (NPG 533), there is the Gainsborough oil at Chevening [6] inscribed age 76/1769, showing the sitter with his hand on Cicero's de Senectute. Chesterfield presented this portrait to the 2nd Countess Stanhope, having sat to the artist in Bath at her request. Gosset's wax medallion, at Clumber in 1923, is undated; it is not known whether this is the one exhibited at the Society of Artists, 1775 (87).
A number of portraits are now lost. Prince Hoare completed a bust by 1741. [7] Two versions are mentioned by Chesterfield in a letter to Richard Chevenix, Bishop of Waterford, dated London, 22 May 1752: 'Lady Chesterfield ... has sent you from Bristol a busto of your humble servant, cast from a marble one done by Mr. Hoare, at Bath, for Mr. Adderly: it is generally thought very like.' [8] Another bust, among those at Stowe, in the Temple of Friendship, [9] was lot 772, Christie's, 21 August 1848, later sold from the Peel collection, Robinson and Fisher, 10 May 1900, lot 130. A letter from Chesterfield to Madame du Boccage, 7 November 1751, suggests there was then a bust in her house in Paris in the rue de la Sourdière; no sculptor is named. [10] In 1776 John Kirk exhibited a medal of the sitter at the Society of Artists (222). Musgrave records, 1797, a portrait by Hudson at Duff House, collection Earl Fife, adding 'From this the bust below his letters is taken'. [11] There is also recorded a bust by John van Nost the younger. [12] On 2 January 1773 the sitter, by then too ill to hold a pen, replied to a request for a portrait: 'Since Lord Hardwicke commands it, there shall be a picture of Lord Chesterfield: otherways it could not be imagined that there would have been one of him drawn at seventy-eight years of age, and in the manifest decline of his health.' [13]
Early portraits are lacking. A portrait of an unknown knight of the Garter sold as Chesterfield at Christie's, 9 February 1951, lot 115 (near Richardson), cannot represent him since the sitter is shown in the parliamentary robes of a duke. A pastel at Knole (172) attributed to Hoare shows the sitter wearing a wig with looped ends. The features are rather different, however, from Hoare's better known type of c.1742, represented by NPG 158. The eyebrows, for example, are thin and untypical. An interesting group by Hayman, with a self-portrait, in the Mellon collection, [14] has persistently been called 'Lord Chesterfield and his Friends' but none of the sitters wears the Garter and though Chesterfield is said to be the fourth figure from the right, there is no known basis for this identification. The picture first appeared at Colnaghi's in 1897, with the sitters unnamed. [15]

1) Hagley catalogue, 1798, p 16 (47).
2) British Museum, Medallic Illustrations of the History of Great Britain and Ireland, compiled F. Hawkins and others, II, p 582.
3) British Museum, Department of Antiquities & Coins, Donations, 28 May 1762.
4) Exhibited 'Eighteenth Century Portrait Busts', Kenwood, 1959 (22); also K. A. Esdaile, The Life and Works of Louis François Roubiliac, 1928, pp 103-4, 106.
5) Exhibited 'British Portraits', RA, 1956 (331); bequeathed by Sir Thomas Robinson, Bart in 1777.
6) List of Portraits at Chevening, 1931, p 5.
7) R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, 1953, p 203.
8) The Letters of Philip Dormer Stanhope 4th Earl of Chesterfield, ed. B. Dobrée, 1932, V, p 1883.
9) Stowe: A Description of the ... House and Gardens ..., 1777, p 31.
10) The Letters of Philip Dormer Stanhope 4th Earl of Chesterfield, ed. B. Dobrée, 1932, IV, p 1789.
11) British Museum Add MS 6329, f.42.
12) W. G. Strickland, A Dictionary of Irish Artists, 1913, II, p 486.
13) The Letters of Philip Dormer Stanhope 4th Earl of Chesterfield, ed. B. Dobrée, 1932, VI, p 2939.
14) Catalogue, 1963 (217); see also Hayman, Francis.
15) 'Description of Portraits', 1897, vol. I (24), MS, NPG archives.


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.