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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

George Whitefield (1714-1770), Methodist leader

Whitefield was painted by Wollaston c.1742, NPG 131. In 1743 Faber published an engraving (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-25, 9) whole length, after Kyte. A similar oil, head and shoulders, is at Pembroke College, Oxford. It is unattributed. A portrait engraved by A. Miller (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-25, 6) after M. Jenkin, known only through the engraving, is in the same pose. Hone exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1768 a portrait of Whitefield (no.68), probably the oil given in 1930 by J. E. Cecil Bigwood to Whitefield Memorial Church, Tottenham Court Road and destroyed by enemy action, March 1943. It was engraved by J. Greenwood (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-25, 2) and others (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-25, 3-5). A head and shoulders portrait by an unknown hand is now in the church. Flaxman showed a 'Bust' in the same exhibition (96), presumably the prototype of the medallion later produced by Wedgwood. Whitefield, as already noted, sat to his fellow Methodist and friend John Russell in 1770, a type discussed under NPG 1792.

An undated portrait in which the sitter looks young is now known only through Faber's mezzotint (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-25, 1) after G. Beard. A half length by an unknown hand, given to Mansfield College by Baron Winterstoke in 1895, appears correctly named and late in life on comparison with authentic portraits. Presumably the work of an anonymous amateur, a portrait 'by a Gentleman' was exhibited at the Society of Artists exhibition of 1773 (296). A crudely painted group showing Whitefield preaching in the open air (Moorfields?) and attributed to Collet was sold from the Hughes-Stanton collection, Philip Son and Neale, 18 September 1956, lot 271. Like Wesley, Whitefield was the subject of popular portraits on mugs, tea pots and the like, and pottery busts such as those by Enoch Wood were made, perhaps posthumously. [1] A number of caricatures also exist; one only very slightly altered, if at all, from engraved portraits appeared in imitation of nos XXXVll and XXXVIII in the Tête à Tête series. An Indian squaw, Parrawankan, is shown opposite Whitefield, who is called unkindly, if perhaps inevitably, 'Dr Squintum'. [2]

1) Carter, 15 June 1937. Known versions of the pottery bust are by Enoch Wood, who was only 12 in 1770 (cf F. Falkner, The Wood Family of Burslem, 1912, pp 57, 59 and pl.xxxv). Glazed examples in the Methodist Research Centre and Archive, City Road, appear to be companions to his Wesley, type B, of c.1791, see Wesley, All Known Portraits.
2) Nos. XXXVII and XXXVIII of Tête à Tête portraits are: no.XXXCII ‘Miss D ... ple’, no.XXXVIII ‘The Pious Preacher’. This is a caricature of John Wesley and his supposed relations with a Miss D, his 'fair Proselyte', Catalogue of Political and Personal Satires, V, no.5300.


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.