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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

George Vertue (1683-1756), Engraver and antiquary

'My picture painted by Mr. Gibson. 1723. begun by Mr. J. Vanderbank. (long before) also by Mr. Hysing begun. painted amongst the Virtuosi by Mr. Smybert. drawn. & in small water Colours by my self begun in Oyl by Mr. Dandridge. Drawn on paper by Sr. Jam. Thornhill 1733. painted excellently by Mr. Richardson Senr.' [1] Of the portraits he lists, the Vanderbank, the Hysing, the Smibert and the Dandridge are either lost or unrecognized. [2] The Thornhill may be the pen and ink profile in the Knowsley library sale, Christie's, 20 October 1953, lot 307, though this is a little insignificant by comparison with the other known portraits mentioned. The Gibson, signed and dated 1723 on the back, was presented to the Society of Antiquaries by Vertue's widow in 1773. [3] The 'Virtuosi' is presumably the Gawen Hamilton conversation, NPG 1384 (q.v.).

To these should be added three self-portrait drawings: with his wife in the clothes worn at their wedding 17 February 1720, known by W. Humphrey's engraving when in Lord Cardiff's possession; [4] a miniature, signed and dated 1729, at Welbeck [5], and the half length in the British Museum, 1741, related to NPG 4876. A profile ad vivum drawing by Richardson, signed and dated 1735, belongs to the Society of Antiquaries. [6] A head not now known was completed, Michaelmas 1750, by Roubiliac's workman, Christian Carlsen Seest. [7] Comparison with authentic portraits suggests that a three-quarter length ivory statuette by Silvanus Bevan in the British Museum probably represents him.

1) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, p 69. This note precedes one made 27 February 1733. See also ibid, I, p 6.
2) For Smibert, see H. W. Foote, John Smibert Painter, 1950, pp 21-22 and notes.
3) Sir George Scharf, Catalogue of the Pictures Belonging to the Society of Antiquaries, 1865, pp 44-45. Vertue's engraving (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-25, 1) of this or a similar portrait gives 1715 as the date.
4) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, I, pl.ii.
5) R. W. Goulding, The Welbeck Abbey Miniatures, 1916, pp 126-27 (152), and pl.xx. Probably given by the sitter to Lord or Lady Oxford.
6) Exhibited ‘British Portraits', RA, 1956-57 (575). Presented by Robert Mond in 1917. To the provenance there given it may be added that it was apparently in the possession of W. Stevenson, FSA, on 1 January 1812, cp the engraving by Basire, of the same type, but with the shoulders finished, giving this ownership.
7) R. Gunnis, Dictionary of British Sculptors 1660-1851, 1953, p 347. See also G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, p 154.


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.