The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

William Beckford (1709-1770), Owner of enslaved people; politician

West India merchant; MP 1747-70; alderman 1752, sheriff 1755-56 and lord mayor 1762-63 and 1769-70 of the City of London; a supporter of Wilkes, on 14 March and 23 May 1770 he took to the King ‘humble Addresses’ of protest concerning the Middlesex elections, on the second occasion answering the King with an unprecedented address.

‘He had boldness, promptness, spirit, a heap of confused knowledge, ... Vainglory seemed to be the real motive of all his actions ... the turbulence of Beckford, his imposing noise, and his great wealth, concurring to his authority’ (Horace Walpole, Memoirs of George III).

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.