Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue
Catherine Maria ('Kitty') Fisher (circa 1741-1767), Courtesan
The Reynolds portraits are presumed to stem from sittings between 1761 and 1766 and there are frequent entries in the diaries during these years. According to Leslie and Taylor she sat in 1761 when a portrait was also being engraved,  in 1762, 1764 and 1766.  There are also a number of payments in Reynolds' ledgers, some of which must relate to posthumous repetitions and versions. For example: 'Sr. Charles Bingham for Miss Fisher 10-10'; March 19, 1774, 'Sir Charles Bingham, remaining for Miss Fisher 10-10'; a second payment for 'Mrs. Norris 52-10' is noted after 14 July 1769.  A picture supposedly of the sitter but perhaps representing another Miss Fisher was among several paid for in May 1782 by the Duke of Rutland.  Another descended in the Proby family from Lord Carysfort, purchased in the Reynolds sale of 1796,  seems, on comparison with authentic portraits, the least close. Dated by Waterhouse as 1766,  it may well have been named because of the similarity in pose to the Petworth portrait of the sitter. In the seated three-quarter length at Bowood, Lansdowne collection, the resemblance to Kitty's face is nearer. This portrait, also dated 1766 by Waterhouse, was apparently first recorded as a 'Lady with a parrot; head finished' in the Thomond sale, 26 May 1821, lot 35.  A portrait by Francis Cotes, known at the time as a Reynolds and seen at Wimpole by Scharf in 1879,  was later found to be signed and dated 1768, a year after the sitter's death. It is now in the Tate Gallery (4689).
1) Sir Ellis K. Waterhouse, Reynolds (English Master Painters), 1941, p 45, pl.59 and p 121.
2) John Parker, 2nd Baron Boringdon, created Earl of Morley, 1815.
3) Read '1760' by C. H. Collins Baker, Catalogue of the Petworth Collection of Pictures ..., 1920, p 103 (90).
4) Sir Ellis K. Waterhouse, Reynolds (English Master Painters), 1941, p 54, pl.102.
5) M. Cormack, 'The Ledgers of Sir Joshua Reynolds', Walpole Society, XLII, 1970, pp 105-69, p 148, 1st ledger, 2nd payment, 13 April 1774.
6) C. R. Leslie and T. Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1865, p 202, and note 6.
7) Ibid, pp 218, 240, 266 and note 8.
8) M. Cormack, 'The Ledgers of Sir Joshua Reynolds', Walpole Society, XLII, 1970, p 111, 1st ledger, 1st payment n.d. [before 1760]; p 145, 2nd ledger; p 130, 1st ledger.
9) Ibid, p 162, 2nd ledger; A. Graves and W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1899-1901, p 310 - noted as burnt in 1816.
10) John Joshua Proby, Baron Carysfort (1751-1828), Greenwood's, 14 April 1796, lot 67; last exhibited ‘British Portraits', RA, 1956-57 (290).
11) Sir Ellis K. Waterhouse, Reynolds (English Master Painters), 1941, p 57, pl.62A.
12) Sir Ellis K. Waterhouse, Reynolds (English Master Painters), 1941, p 57; bought Phillips, RA, £5.15s, A. Graves and W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1899-1901, p 308; at Christie's, 9 May 1846, lot 39, bought Farrer; cp Catalogue of the Collection of Pictures ... at the Lansdowne House, London and Bowood, Wilts., 1897, p 84.
13) Sir George Scharf's Trustees' Sketchbooks, XXVI, f.73r, 79r; another attributed to Cotes reproduced Connoisseur, LVII, 1920, p 190.
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.