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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford (1689-1741), Patron of letters and collector

With the exception of the portraits still at Welbeck, [1] by descent through the marriage, 1734, of the sitter's daughter Margaret to William, 2nd Duke of Portland, the notable collection formed by the Harleys, 1st and 2nd Earls of Oxford, was dispersed by sale, 1742, after the latter's death in the previous year. Portraits of the sitter include a head and shoulders (Welbeck 570) by Kneller, paid for in 1716, and several by Dahl of which a life-size drawing in black chalk, in the British Museum, is likely to have been ad vivum. [2] Another signed Kneller, three-quarter length, was given by the sitter to Dr Stratford in 1716 and by him to Christ Church, Oxford, in 1729. It is inscribed 1730 in a later hand. [3] An oil by Dahl (Welbeck 447) in which the sitter holds a medal of Queen Anne was copied in enamel by Zincke (Welbeck 197) in 1719. [4] A repetition was presented by Vertue, 1755, to the Society of Antiquaries [5] and another, whole length in parliamentary robes (Welbeck 419), painted in 1728, was engraved by Vertue, 1745. A three-quarter length, again with medal, was presented by the Duchess of Portland, the sitter's daughter, to the British Museum in 1768. The drawing in dressing gown and cap now in the collection of A. N. L. Munby, Cambridge, is perhaps connected with Vertue's engraving of 1745. A miniature signed BL in monogram on the front and dated 1712 (Welbeck 361) is inscribed and signed on the reverse: the Rt: Honble. the Lord Harley Oct ye 30 1712. Bernard Lens Fecit by the life; [6] another was recorded at Dupplin Castle in the 1798 inventory. [7] Besides the enamel (Welbeck 197), another by Zincke (Welbeck 201), [8] signed and dated 1727, shows the sitter with his daughter Lady Margaret Harley. Christian Richter's miniature (Welbeck 186), after Dahl (Welbeck 447), is signed and dated 1720. A small crayon (Welbeck 756) is among several drawings there by the obscure Mrs Pawling and other hands.

1) R. W. Goulding and C. K. Adams, Catalogue of the Pictures Belonging to His Grace the Duke of Portland ..., 1936, passim.
2) Exhibited 'Sir Godfrey Kneller', NPG, 1971 (51), and catalogue references.
3) R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, 1912-25, III, p 58 (148).
4) R. W. Goulding and C. K. Adams, Catalogue of the Pictures Belonging to His Grace the Duke of Portland ..., 1936, pp 176-77.
5) Catalogue ... of the Society of Antiquaries, 1865, p 41.
6) R. W. Goulding, The Welbeck Abbey Miniatures, 1916, p 202.
7) British Museum Add. MS 6392, f.51.
8) R. W. Goulding, The Welbeck Abbey Miniatures, 1916, p 147; exhibited 'British Portrait Miniatures', Edinburgh, 1965 (381).


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.