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Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Hester Lynch Piozzi (née Salusbury, later Mrs Thrale) (1741-1821), Writer and friend of Dr Johnson

MS notes by C. F. Bell are inserted in his copy of Hester Lynch Piozzi by James L. Clifford, 1941, which he bequeathed to the NPG.

1766-73
Portrait by P-E. Falconet, wearing a black jacket with ‘such a Noble Negligence’ (Marquess of Lansdowne ed., The Queeney Letters, being letters addressed to Hester Maria Thrale by Doctor Johnson, Fanny Burney and Mrs Thrale-Piozzi, p 208).

c.1777
Painting by Joshua Reynolds, seated with her eldest daughter Hester (b. 1764). Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton (illus. Johnson, Arts Council, 1984, p 115; D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, no.1750). Mrs Thrale’s head engraved E. Finden 1835. At the same time Reynolds painted Henry Thrale (Hyde Collection), both portraits to hang in the library at Streatham.

1778-84
'My Portrait by some of the Burneys’, presumably E. F. Burney, had belonged to Dr Johnson, who left it to Francis Barber (Thraliana 1942, II, p 690n3; E. A. & L. D. Bloom ed., The Piozzi Letters, V, pp 197, 199n7).

c.1780
Miniature by Richard Cosway. University of Texas at Austin TX (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Carlton Lake Art Collection, 70.33; illus. M. Hyde, The Thrales of Streatham, 1977, p 15). On 7 July 1784 Mrs Piozzi mentioned that Dr Dobson 'wanted to borrow my Miniature painted by Cosway' (Marquess of Lansdowne ed., The Queeney Letters, being letters addressed to Hester Maria Thrale by Doctor Johnson, Fanny Burney and Mrs Thrale-Piozzi, p 157).

c.1780?
Anon. silhouette (illus. NPG Burney Diaries, II, ii, p 285).

1781
Painting by R. E. Pine, half-length oval, in widowhood wearing a miniature, presumably of her late husband (Henry Thrale d. 4 April 1781). Courage Ltd. Engraved T. Holloway 1786, without painter’s name (European Mag., accompanying extracts from the Florence Miscellany); H. R. Cook 1813 as Reynolds (illus. E. A. & L. D. Bloom ed., The Piozzi Letters, II, front.). On 25 August 1781 Mrs Thrale and Fanny Burney visited Pine and saw a picture ‘of Mrs Thrale ... not like, I think, but a mighty elegant portrait’ (Burney Diary, 1904, II, p 33).

1782
Miniature by S. T. Roche, bust length. Francis Wellesley sale, Sotheby’s, 4th day, 1 July 1920, lot 673 (illus. Connoisseur, XLIX, 1917, p 43).

1785-86
Two paintings by unknown Italian artists, see NPG 4942.

by 1788
Painting by George James, ‘in a green hat’. Untraced. On 18 July 1788 Mrs Piozzi wrote that ‘Mr James has made a very fine Portrait indeed of Your faithful Friend’ (E. A. & L. D. Bloom ed., The Piozzi Letters, I, pp 268, 269n6 and see p 251n3; Thraliana 1942, I, p 584n3).

1793
Drawings by George Dance, see NPG 1151.

1798-99
Miniature by J. T. Barber, bust-length oval. Sold Lawrence, Crewkerne, 13 September 1973, lot 384 (illus. Dr Johnson and the Fair Sex, 1895, p 67). Exhibited RA 1799 (690). Engraved W. Ridley 1798 (Monthly Mirror).

1800
Painting by Pierre Violet, wearing a fur boa, engraved M. Bovi 1800. The engraving, which was compared to the 'Witch of Endor', used as the title page for Mrs Piozzi’s Retrospection, 1801 (J. L. Clifford, Hester Lynch Piozzi (Mrs Thrale), 1952, p 401; E. A. & L. D. Bloom ed., The Piozzi Letters, III, pp 245, 246n5).

1810
In a letter of 19 February 1810 Mrs Piozzi referred to ‘an admirable Miniature of my Black Bonnet’ (E. A. & L. D. Bloom ed., The Piozzi Letters, IV, pp 268, 270n1, where identified as the drawing by Jackson, see below; but see 1811).

Drawing by John Jackson, half length, in mourning. Dr Johnson’s House, London (illus. J. L. Clifford, Hester Lynch Piozzi (Mrs Thrale), 1952, f.p.406). Engraved H. Meyer 1811. 'Jackson painted her picture in May' 1810 (J. L. Clifford, Hester Lynch Piozzi (Mrs Thrale), 1952, p 430n3). A small version in oil, plausibly attributed to Jackson, showing a paper in the left hand, is in the Hyde collection (illus. E. A. & L. D. Bloom ed., The Piozzi Letters, IV, front.).

All subsequent portraits show Mrs Piozzi in black, a dress she forsook only for her eightieth birthday fête, when she wore white (M. Hyde, The Thrales of Streatham, 1977, p.310). According to M. E. Lucy (Charlecote and the Lucys, 1958, p 258), while she lived at Brynbella in Denbighshire [from 1794], Mrs Piozzi wore black satin with a turned-up hat of the same, a wig of brown curls and rouge - at that time completely abandoned for general use.

1811
Unattributed miniature, bust-length profile wearing a black bonnet. Johnson Birthplace Museum, Lichfield (from Lawrence, Crewkerne, 13 September 1973, lot 382).

c.1815-20
Miniature by W. M. Bennett, with a white cap. A. D. H. Pennant, Nantlys, in 1957 (illus. M. Hyde, The Thrales of Streatham, 1977, p 317). A miniature copy by Sophia Merrik Hoare 1822.

c.1815-20?
Miniature by Charles Jagger painted for William Augustus Conway (M. Hyde, The Thrales of Streatham, 1977, p 310).

1817
Miniature by S. T. Roche, half length with black bonnet. National Museum and Gallery, Cardiff, from Lawrence, Crewkerne, 13 September 1973, lot 381. Mrs Piozzi enjoined Roche ‘to introduce a trivial deformity of the lower jaw on the left side, where ... she had been severely hurt by her horse treading on her’, and the picture was considered ‘the essential of resemblance, perfect' (E. Mangin, Piozziana, 1833, pp 9-10). She had commissioned Roche to paint her portrait for Sir James Fellowes; in 1817 a copy of it was given to the Rev Edward Mangin, and a second copy was given to Lady Salusbury in December that year (M. Hyde, The Thrales of Streatham, 1977, pp 297, 302, 307); it was presumably one of these which was sold at Sotheby's, 26 June 1978, lot 233.

1820
Painting by James Hopwood, half length, engraved J. Thomson 1820 (illus. M. Hyde, The Thrales of Streatham, 1977, p 311 described as Mrs Piozzi at her eightieth-birthday fête).

Doubtful Portraits
The portrait illustrated in Clifford 1952, front., as Hester Thrale is of an unidentified American lady by J. S. Copley (Los Angeles Museum). The anecdote that, as a child, Hester Salusbury posed for Hogarth’s Lady’s Last Stake remains unsubstantiated (E. A. & L. D. Bloom ed., The Piozzi Letters, IV, pp 282, 285n12).



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.