George Colman the Elder
- Extended Catalogue Entry
George Colman the Elder
by Thomas Gainsborough
oil on canvas, circa 1778
28 1/2 in. x 23 1/4 in. (724 mm x 591 mm)
Sitterback to top
- George Colman the Elder (1732-1794), Playwright. Sitter associated with 10 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), Portrait and landscape painter. Artist associated with 263 portraits, Sitter in 8 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Possibly painted in 1778 when Colman was at the Haymarket Theatre and Gainsborough was painting scenery at the King's Theatre across the road.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Smartify image discovery app
- Gibson, Robin, Treasures from the National Portrait Gallery, 1996, p. 67
- Ingamells, John, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, 2004, p. 112
- Pointon, Marcia, Hanging the head : portraiture and social formation in eighteenth-¿century England, 1993, p. 131 number 157
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 137
- Uglow, Jenny, Character Sketches: Dr Johnson, His Club and Other Friends, 1998, p. 41
Events of 1778back to top
Current affairsCatholic Relief Act is the first to provide a measure of catholic emancipation, modifying the penal laws that effectively prevented Catholics from holding public office. The reform is encouraged by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Mansfield, who had balked at various prosecutions under the statutes now repealed.
Art and scienceFrancis D'Arblay, writing as Fanny Burney, publishes her novel Evelina, or the History of a Young Lady's Entrance into the World, in which she satirises contemporary society.
Engineer Joseph Bramah invents a type of flush toilet, replacing the usual slide valve with a hinged flap that seals the bottom of the bowl.
InternationalAmerican War of Independence: France, joining the American colonies in their fight against Britain, sends a large fleet across the Atlantic. The British rapidly abandon Philadelphia. The American naval hero John Paul Jones makes successful raids around the coasts of Britain.
James Cook's third Pacific voyage, aboard the ships HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery, first views Oahu then Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands, which Cook names the Sandwich Islands.
Watch our playlist exploring scientific techniques used by the Gallery to unlock the secrets behind our Tudor portraits.
Subjects and themes
Search the collection by themes - from pets to weddings!
Black History Month
Take a tour exploring our Collection created by Alayo Akinkugbe for Black History Month in 2020.
A Picture of Health
Learn about pioneers in medicine, health and social reform from 1840 to 1920.
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints
Choose your favourite portrait from our Collection as a framed or unframed print for your home.