King George III
- Extended Catalogue Entry
King George III
studio of Allan Ramsay
oil on canvas, based on a work of 1761-1762
58 in. x 42 in. (1473 mm x 1067 mm)
Sitterback to top
- King George III (1738-1820), Reigned 1760-1820. Sitter associated with 193 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Allan Ramsay (1713-1784), Portrait painter. Artist associated with 120 portraits, Sitter in 3 portraits.
This portraitback to top
The eldest son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, George was the first Hanoverian King to be born and bred in England. His reign from 1760 was one of the longest and most eventful in modern times. Although plagued by apparent bouts of insanity, he maintained a meticulous personal interest in government until 1811. A patron of the arts and sciences, he amassed an extensive library and fostered an interest in agriculture. His obstinate attitude towards the demands of the American colonies led to the loss of these territories and the close of the first British empire. This portrait shows the King in his coronation robes; it is one of the numerous replicas issued by Ramsay of the coronation portrait which he painted in 1761. Many of these found their way to Britain's newly acquired colonial territories where they represented the authority of the nascent British empire.
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- Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. 161 Read entry
The eldest son of Frederick, Prince of Wales, George III was the first Hanoverian king to be born and bred in England. His reign was one of the longest and most eventful in modern times, and included the loss of the American colonies. Although plagued by mental illness, he maintained a meticulous personal interest in government until 1811. He first met German-born Charlotte on their wedding day on 8 September 1761. Overcoming initial obstacles of language, they forged a strong and affectionate bond and had fifteen children, of whom thirteen survived into adulthood.
Issued by the talented Scottish court artist Allan Ramsay, these portraits (NPG 224 and NPG 223) are two of several versions of the State portraits that he painted in 1761 and 1762. The royal couple are shown in great splendour wearing the matching gold and ermine costumes worn at the coronation on 22 September 1761. Ramsay presents the young king with a grace and elegance that is complementary to the dignity and power of majesty. Many of the studio versions of these pictures found their way to Britain's newly acquired colonial territories, where they represented the authority of the nascent British Empire.
- Cannadine, Sir David (Introduction); Cooper, Tarnya; Stewart, Louise; MacGibbon, Rab; Cox, Paul; Peltz, Lucy; Moorhouse, Paul; Broadley, Rosie; Jascot-Gill, Sabina, Tudors to Windsors: British Royal Portraits, 2018 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, USA, 7 October 2018 -3 February 2019. Bendigo Art Gallery, Australia, 16 March - 14 July 2019.), p. Front Flap
- Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 27 Read entry
Ramsay had to expand his studio and employ more assistants to meet the demand for portraits of the new monarch. ‘The ardour with which these beloved objects were sought for by distant corporations and transmarine colonies was astonishing’, said writer and magistrate Joseph Moser.
- Gibson, Robin, Treasures from the National Portrait Gallery, 1996, p. 63
- Hart-Davis, Adam, Chain Reactions, 2000, p. 69
- Ingamells, John, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, 2004, p. 192
- Ross, Josephine, Jane Austen and her World, 2017, p. 10
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 241
- 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. 180 Read entry
Gilt compo on pine, mitred and pinned with corner blocks, the slip water gilt, the narrow sanded, drying cracks visible in the compo ornament. 4 3⁄ 4 inches wide.
The framemakers Foord & Dickinson are better known for their fastidious frames for Ruskin, Rossetti, Lord Leighton and Edward Lear than for their work at the National Portrait Gallery from 1857 to 1869. When this portrait of George III and its companion of Queen Charlotte were acquired in 1866, Foord & Dickinson made 'Two Ornamental Frames' at the considerable cost of £8.12s each. In type they are a throwback to the early eighteenth century (see for example NPG 5734) but the large scale of the running ornament and the use of compo mark them out as Victorian imitations.
- Williamson, David, Kings and Queens, 2010, p. 135
- Williamson, David, The National Portrait Gallery: History of the Kings and Queens of England, 1998, p. 139
Events of 1761back to top
Current affairsGeorge, Prince of Wales marries Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz at St James' Palace. He is crowned George III two weeks later.
Buckingham House, on the site of present-day Buckingham Palace, is purchased for the royal family.
Bridgewater canal, engineered by James Brindley, opens as Britain's first canal.
Art and scienceEstablishment of Matthew Boulton's toy factory, the Soho Manufactory, near Birmingham; considered the first modern factory in Britain.
Allan Ramsay becomes Painter to the King.
InternationalSeven Years' War: General Sir Eyre Coote captures Pondicherry from the French in India. A combined Prussian-Hanoverian-British force led by Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick defeats a large French army at the Battle of Villinghausen. France and Spain sign the Pacte de Famille forming an alliance against Britain. Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder fails to garner support to declare war on Spain.
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