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Charles Churchill

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Charles Churchill

by John Stone Clifford Schaack (Shaak)
oil on canvas, feigned oval, circa 1763-1764
28 3/4 in. x 24 1/2 in. (730 mm x 622 mm)
Purchased, 1863
Primary Collection
NPG 162


This neoclassical frame with a large-scale op…

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Charles Churchill was the author of The Rosciad, 1761, a satire on contemporary actors in which only David Garrick escaped his vitriol. His other targets included the prime minister Lord Bute, the author Tobias Smollett and the artist William Hogarth. Churchill died on his way to visit his friend, John Wilkes, who was then living in exile in Paris. As this portrait shows him in civil dress, it was presumably painted after Churchill abandoned the Church in January 1763 and shortly before his early death. The frame to this portrait is neo-classical in style, with a large-scale open fretwork guilloche frieze and flat mitre leaves. It is of a type pioneered by Robert Adam in his designs for the Painted Breakfast Room at Kedleston, Derbyshire in 1761, and may date to the 1770s; it is not however original to this portrait. More detailed information on this portrait is available in a National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue, John Kerslake's Early Georgian Portraits (1977, out of print).

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  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Kerslake, John, Early Georgian Portraits, 1977, p. 52
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 123
  • Simon, Jacob, The Art of the Picture Frame: Artists, Patrons and the Framing of Portraits in Britain, 1997 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 8 November 1996 - 9 February 1997), p. 165 Read entry

    Carved and gilt pine, mitred, the top edge perhaps originally water gilt. 2 3⁄ 4 inches wide without later slip.

    This neo-classical frame with a large-scale open fretwork guilloche frieze and flat mitre leaves probably dates to the 1770s. It is of a type pioneered by Robert Adam in his designs for the Painted Breakfast Room at Kedleston in 1761. The frame apparently came to the Gallery on a Kneller studio portrait of the actor, Thomas Betterton, acquired in 1886 without provenance, and can be seen on an old glass negative of the picture. The frame has now for many years housed this portrait of the satirist, Charles Churchill, of the 1760s, albeit with the addition of a narrow sight slip.

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Events of 1763back to top

Current affairs

John Stuart, 3rd Earl of Bute resigns as Prime Minister following sustained attacks in the press and parliament. He is succeeded by George Grenville.
Radical John Wilkes is arrested for attacking the king in his weekly satirical publication The North Briton. His arrest is declared illegal by Chief Justice Pratt and he is released, though expelled from Parliament.

Art and science

Biographer James Boswell is introduced to the writer Samuel Johnson for the first time at Thomas Davies's bookshop in Covent Garden, London.
Josiah Wedgwood receives orders for his pottery from Queen Charlotte. He names his range of pottery 'Queen's Ware' after her.
American painter Benjamin West settles in London, where he becomes famous for his large-scale history scenes.


Pontiac, an Ottawa chief, leads an uprising of the Indian tribes in America in an attempt to drive the British east. Royal Proclamation of 1763 is made by George III, regulating westward expansion of British North America.
Seven Years' War: Treaty of Paris between Britain, France, Spain and Portugal and Treaty of Hubertusburg between Prussia and Austria end the Seven Years' War, leaving Britain in control of Canada, India and much of the Caribbean.

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