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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), Novelist

Novelist; born in Derbyshire; apprenticed, 1706, to a stationer; set up, 1719, in business as a printer in Fleet Street, and later in Salisbury Court, London, where he lived for the rest of his life; Pamela and Clarissa Harlowe, his most famous works, appeared 1740 and 1747-48, Sir Charles Grandison in 1753; married (1) Martha Wilde, daughter of an Aldersgate printer and (2) Elizabeth Leake, sister of James Leake, a bookseller at Bath.
Richardson left two descriptions of himself, [1] the more substantial of which was addressed to Lady Bradshaigh in November 1749 when he was hoping to meet her:

'My countenance ... has nothing in it severe or forbidding ... Short; rather plump than emaciated ... about five foot five inches; ... one hand generally in his bosom, the other a cane in it ... looking directly foreright, as passers-by would imagine, but observing all that stirs on either hand of him without moving his short neck; ... teeth not yet failing him; smoothish faced, and ruddy cheeked: at sometimes looking to be about sixty-five, at other times much younger ...'. He concludes, that ... from this odd, this grotesque figure think you, Madam that you have any thing to apprehend? Any thing that will not rather promote than check your mirth?'
Elsewhere he is described as 'short and tun-bellied, with his hands joined over the protruberance and twirling his thumbs'. [2] A German admirer Major Bernhard von Hohorst writing to Klopstock in October 1756 found him: 'fairly stout and sedate ... light brown hair and a pair of large, blue, fiery, roguish, witty eyes ...’. [3]

Footnotesback to top

1) J. C. Duncan Eaves and B. D. Kimpel, Samuel Richardson, 1971, pp 523-24.
2) Ibid, citing Anecdotes by Mrs. Le Noir, p 167.
3) Ibid, citing Geschichte der Meta Klopstock in Briefen, 1962, p 473.

Referencesback to top

Barbauld (ed.) 1804
The Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, ed. L. Barbauld, 1804.

Collins Baker 1944
C. H. Collins Baker, 'Joseph Highmore, Samuel Richardson and Lady Bradshaigh', Huntington Library Quarterly, May 1944.

Eaves and Kimpel 1971
J. C. Duncan Eaves and B. D. Kimpel, Samuel Richardson, 1971.

Goodwin 1903
G. Goodwin, James McArdell, 1903.

Memoires inedits de Madame la Comtesse de Genlis, 1825.

Nevinson 1964
J. L. Nevinson, 'Vandyke dress', Connoisseur, CLVII, 1964.

Steegman 1963
J. Steegman, 'An 18th Century Painting Identified', Country Life, CXXXIV, 1963.


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.