Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Catharine Macaulay (née Sawbridge) (1731-1791), Historian and political polemicist

Radical historian; married 1) 1760 George Macaulay, a Scottish physician (d. 1766), 2) 1778 William Graham, a quack Bath doctor, some twenty-six years her junior; her History of England from the accession of James I, 1763-83, attracted much attention and was translated into French 1791-92; acclaimed in Paris 1777 and America 1784-85, but at home she became an isolated figure.

‘above the middling size, inclining to tall; her shape slender and elegant; the contour of her face, neck, and shoulders, graceful. The form of her face was oval, her complexion delicate, and her skin fine; her hair of a mild brown, long and profuse; her nose between the Roman and the Grecian; her mouth small, her chin round ... her eyes beautiful as imagination can conceive, full of penetration and fire, but their fire softened by the mildest beams of benevolence; their colour was a fine dark hazel, and their expression the indication of a superior soul’ (Town and Country Mag., 1769).

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, 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.