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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

John Ligonier, 1st Earl Ligonier (1680-1770), Field Marshal

Although his possessions were dispersed following the death of his nephew and sole heir in 1782, [1] the sitter's likeness is preserved in portraits given to friends and institutions connected with him. With the exception of the Mercier stated to be of 1738, [2] at the French Protestant Hospital, Rochester, all portraits show the order of the Bath and must be of 1743 or later. Ligonier gave the hospital a portrait of himself on horseback by Dandridge in 1752 [3] with a background doubtless alluding to the recent campaign. There were sittings to Reynolds, September 1755, March 1757 and July 1760. [4] The half-length which descended to Colonel H. W. Lloyd [5] and was lent to the National Army Museum, must relate on stylistic grounds to the earlier sittings, [6] while the big equestrian portrait, exhibited at the Royal Society of Artists 1761 (85), [7] is usually associated with 1760. Both are in the same pose. An undated first payment ‘150’ [8] could well indicate Reynolds' charge for a half and a whole length. The first version of the equestrian portrait, [9] smaller than life-size, is probably the oil from the Sutherland collection at Christie's, 27 October 1961, lot 51, now in the Ligonier Society, Pittsburgh. The life-size version in the Tate is weaker.

Morier, who painted many small-scale military pieces, exhibited at the Society of Artists 1765 (88) 'A general on horseback Lord Ligonier'. A small conversation piece at Lloyds Bank, Cox & King's Branch, once ascribed to Beechey but now much more plausibly attributed to Morier, [10] depicts the appointment of Richard Cox as agent to the 1st regiment of foot guards, 1758. Ligonier here wears a scarlet state coat remarkable by its absence of lapels, possibly unique and cut especially for him. [11] The same coat occurs in the small equestrian portrait at Anglesey Abbey and in the repetition at Wilton, surely wrongly named as General Sir James Campbell of Lawere, d. 1745. [12] Another small equestrian whole length by Morier at Windsor (Sir Oliver Millar, The Later Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1969, 957) with a blue coat is thought to represent him as Master General of the Ordnance and would therefore be c.1759-62. The Anglesey Abbey portrait though not closely datable, [13] might be that exhibited in 1765, but only on the grounds that it is the most accomplished of its type extant.

A painting by the Irish artist James Latham (d. 1747), now known through J. Brooks' engraving, shows a long undivided lapel perhaps depicting the sitter as colonel of the 8th or the 4th Horse. [14] An undated oil in Hyde Park barracks, probably by Henry Morland, [15] shows a uniform with a long aiguillette and may thus represent him as colonel of the 1st foot guards, 1757-70. [16] A similar work was in the collection, 1950, of Sir E. B. Frederick, descendant of Charles Frederick, senior official on the board of ordnance and long a friend and colleague of the sitter. A standing three-quarter length acquired by the National Army Museum in 1963, with a cannon in the background probably shows him as lieutenant-general of the ordnance. A portrait by J. Worsdale was engraved by Bockman (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83, 11) as painted in 1756.

Ligonier appears in groups with Cumberland and Lord Henry Campbell at Laffeldt, 1747, collection Duke of Argyll, attributed to Wootton; with Cumberland c.1749, by Morier, Royal collection (Sir Oliver Millar, The Later Georgian Pictures in the collection of Her Majesty The Queen, 1969, 948) and again by Morier, with George II, c.1760-65 (ibid, 952). James Moore, sculptor of the monument erected in Westminster Abbey in 1773, exhibited two clay models at the Free Society, 1774 (179 and 180), and a bust by Phillipson was at Christie's, 12 December 1785, [17] following the death of the sculptor in that year.

1) R. Whitworth, Field Marshal Lord Ligonier, 1958, p vii.
2) Exhibited 'Philip Mercier', Kenwood, 1969 (33).
3) C. H. Collins Baker, verbal, 1953.
4) C. R. Leslie and T. Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1865, I, pp 141, 237.
5) R. Whitworth, Field Marshal Lord Ligonier, 1958, p 405. Sold Sotheby's 14 July 1976, lot 102.
6) Sir Ellis K. Waterhouse, Reynolds (English Master Painters), 1941, p 40, and 1968, p 154. Exhibited ‘The Grenadier Guards', St James's Palace, 1956 (304).
7) 'Notes by Horace Walpole ... on the Exhibitions of The Society of Artists and the Free Society of Artists, 1760-1791 ...', edited H. Gatty, Walpole Society, XXVII, 1939, p 75; Sir Ellis K. Waterhouse, Reynolds (English Master Painters), 1941, p 48.
8) M. Cormack, 'The Ledgers of Sir Joshua Reynolds', Walpole Society, XLII, 1970, p 157.
9) C. R. Leslie and T. Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1865, I, p 192, note 2, for Reynolds' ‘original sketch' then collection William Russell.
10) P. Sumner, 'Cox & Co, Army Agents Uniform Items from Their Ledgers', Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, XVII, 1938, p 92; N. P. Dawnay, 'Field-Marshal John, Earl Ligonier', Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, XXX, 1952, pp 85-86.
11) Kindly pointed out by Major Dawnay, verbally, 1975.
12) P. Sumner, ‘The Morier Paintings at Wilton', Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, XIX, 1940, opposite p 64; see also N. P. Dawnay, 'Field-Marshal John, Earl Ligonier', Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, XXX, 1952, pp 185-86.
13) McK. Annand's argument, A. McK. Annand, 'Field-Marshal John Louis 1st Earl Ligonier, KB, c.1768', Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, XLVII, 1969, p 128, that the Anglesey Abbey portrait is of 1766-70 seems to be formed on the misconception that the dress depicts the rank of Field-Marshal.
14) N. P. Dawnay, verbal, 1972.
15) Cp Eyre Coote by Henry Morland (NPG 124).
16) N. P. Dawnay, verbal, 1972.
17) R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, 1953, p 301.


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.