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Regency Portraits Catalogue

Sarah Trimmer (1741-1810), Evangelist and children's writer

Oil by Lawrence (NPG 5498).

Small oval head and shoulders to right in large black hat and black dress, stipple by Chapman published in The Ladies' Monthly Museum, 1 November 1798 but probably from a portrait of 1792.

Oil by Henry Howard (NPG 796).

The will of the Rev Kirby Trimmer (d. 1887) bequeathed three family portraits by Gainsborough to the NPG: 'Oil paintings of my Grandmother Trimmer, of her Father Joshua Kirby and of John Kirby "The Suffolk Traveller" upon condition that the Trustees shall pay ... two hundred pounds' (solicitor's letter 17 October 1887 in NPG archive).

Several members of Mrs Trimmer's family were certainly painted by Gainsborough (see her parents, Mr and Mrs Joshua Trimmer, NPG 1421) but there is no apparent record of a sitting from Sarah. An oil attributed to Gainsborough but doubted by Scharf was offered to the NPG in 1868, half-length seated to left, a stout lady in white dress and blue satin mob cap, 'dashingly and carelessly painted' (Scharf's sketch in Sir George Scharf’s Trustees’ Sketchbooks, XV, 9); possibly her brother William Kirby, a pupil of Gainsborough, may have painted her portrait.

Miniature by Plimer in Countess Tolstoy's collection, 3 Canton Gardens, listed in G. C. Williamson, Cosway, 1897, p 138.

Oil attributed to Romney in Musée Jacquemart André, Paris, exhibited 'Old Masters', RA, 1873 (54) lent by J. H. Anderdon who seems to have been the first to attach both Romney's and Mrs Trimmer's names to the portrait (H. Ward & W. Roberts, Romney, p 161).

Oil in Ipswich Museum, half-length in dark green dress with black waistband and straw bonnet, attributed to Henry Howard.

The portrait by Catherine Read, engraved in mezzotint by James Watson, mentioned in the Dictionary of National Biography article, is in fact of one of Mrs Trimmer's six daughters holding a cat (John Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotint Portraits, 145).

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, 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.