The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

James Gibbs (1682-1754), Architect

Although some of the portraits he mentions are now apparently lost and others mis-named, Vertue [1] remains the best source. Authentic portraits, especially in the sitter's later years, are not uncommon. An oil by Hysing is now known only through P. Pelham's engraving (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83, 21) made before 1726, the year the latter went to America. This makes Gibbs look taller and thinner than in the two Rysbrack busts inscribed 1726, one of which is over a door in the Bodleian [2] and the other in St Martin-in-the-Fields 'extreamly like him a bald head. Cutt in Marble from that another basso relievo. with a wigg on'. [3] An undated portrait at Sotheby's, 17 June 1959, lot 4, formerly at Alloa as by Dahl, shows the sitter holding a rectilinear plan, as yet unidentified. It was possibly painted for his patron John, 6th Earl of Mar (1675-1732). [4]
Gibbs' book plate by Bernard Baron (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-258), a profile head to the right, 1736, shows him rather fuller of face, as do other portraits from this date on. The Hogarth, now lost, was engraved by Baron by 1747 for Gibbs' Bibliotheca Radcliviana and by McArdell undated. The face is similar to Williams' portrait, a version of which, dated 1752, was in the Bodleian by 1760. [5] The rather wooden three-quarter length donated by Gibbs to St Mary's Hall, sponsors of his honorary MA in 1749, is now at Oriel. [6] An oil at St Martin-in-the-Fields, formerly attributed to Hogarth, shows the Radcliffe nearly finished. Its more recent attribution to Soldi derives, no doubt, from Vertue's reference c.1746 that he painted Gibbs. [7]
The portrait with the publishers Batsford in 1938, acquired by the Scottish NPG as Gibbs by Soldi, has a distinctive cleft chin and, though connected with the Radcliffe, does not seem correctly named. Townsend, one of the masons, has been suggested but he died in 1739. [8] It might conceivably be his successor William Smith. The relationship to the St Martin's portrait is puzzling for, although the two pictures do not seem to be the same sitter, the background of the Radcliffe with scaffolding on either side of the cupola is common to both; it also appears in the smaller version of the St Martin's portrait owned by Truman, Hanberry, Buxton & Co Ltd. An enamel by Zincke was exhibited in 1889 and 1891, when in the collection of W. W. Aston. [9] In addition to the 1726 Rysbrack bust over a door, the Radcliffe also received in 1845, a bust showing Gibbs much older. [10]
Vertue, followed by Walpole, is the sole authority for the portrait by 'Schryder', possibly G. E. Schröder, in England 1718-25. [11] A portrait in the Sir Thomas Seabright sale 1737, [12] and one by Dahl, Earl of Oxford sale, March 1741, 2nd day, lot 31, are now lost, as is a bust recorded in the Strawberry Hill sale, 13 May 1842 (17th day), lot 99. An undated portrait by Bartholomew Dandridge at Orleans House, Twickenham, Ionides collection, is signed with initials and probably of the 1740s. Its history is not known before 1955 and despite some resemblance to the sitter, its identity remains open.
Gibbs appears in 'Conversation of Virtuosis' by Gawen Hamilton, 1735 (see NPG 1384).

1) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, pp 13, 17, 56, 71, 132, 162.
2) R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, 1912-25, I, p 226 (685).
3) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, p 13. Exhibited 'Painting and Sculpture in England 1700-1750', Liverpool, 1958 (49); see also M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack Sculptor, 1954, pp 53, 216, fig.10.
4) H. M. Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1954, p 229.
5) R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, 1912-25, I, p 102 (254).
6) Ibid, II, p 88 (25), artist unknown; H. M. Colvin, A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects, 1954, p 230.
7) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, p 132.
8) B. Little, The Life and Works of James Gibbs, 1955, p 131.
9) 'Exhibition of Portrait Miniatures', 1889 (16); ‘Royal House of Guelph', 1891 (563).
10) R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, 1912-25, I, p 226 (686).
11) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, p 13; H. Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford, Anecdotes of Painting in England ... collected by ... George Vertue; digested ... by Horace Walpole, edited J. Dalloway and R. N. Wornum, 1862, II, p 694.
12) W. Nisser, Michael Dahl, Uppsala, 1927, p 143.


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.