Probably John Cartwright

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Probably John Cartwright

by Henry Fuseli
black chalk, circa 1779
12 3/4 in. x 19 3/4 in. (324 mm x 502 mm)
Purchased, 1967
Primary Collection
NPG 4538

Sitterback to top

  • John Cartwright (active 1778-1808), Painter. Sitter associated with 1 portrait.

Artistback to top

  • Henry Fuseli (1741-1825), Painter. Artist or producer associated with 3 portraits, Sitter in 11 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait probably depicts the artist John Cartwright whose initials 'I.C.' are inscribed on the tobacco box. On Fuseli's return from Rome, in 1779, he stayed in Cartwright's house in St Martin's Lane. This image commemorates their friendship. The direct stare of the sitter and unusual, informal pose, create a sense of intimacy with the viewer. Artists were encouraged to make quick studies from life of their friends and acquaintances. While this is a highly finished example, it also captures a private moment between friends.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Rogers, Malcolm, Master Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery, 1993 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 5 August to 23 October 1994), p. 63
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 107
  • Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 195

Events of 1779back to top

Current affairs

Admiral Augustus Keppel, First Lord of the Admiralty during the final years of the American War of Independence is tried and acquitted at court martial of misconduct at the Battle of Ushant the previous year. His case becomes a cause célèbre.
Botanist Joseph Banks tells a committee of the House of Commons that the east coast of Australia is suitable for the transportation of convicted felons.
Penitentiary Act authorises state prisons.

Art and science

Swiss artist Henry Fuseli settles in London after nine years in Rome. Painter and President of the Royal Academy Joshua Reynolds' celebrated Discourses on art are published as a book.
World's first iron bridge is assembled across the Severn at Coalbrookdale.Inventor Samuel Crompton introduces the Spinning Mule.
John Newton and William Cowper's Olney Hymns is published, containing the first printed version of Amazing Grace.


American War of Independence: Spain, in alliance with France and the US, declares war on Britain. Great Siege of Gibraltar begins, in which French and Spanish forces try to wrest power from the established British Garrison, under the leadership of General George Augustus Eliot.
Captain James Cook is killed in a skirmish with natives on the Sandwich Islands on his third and final voyage.

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