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.

First Previous 16 OF 380 NextLast

George Frideric Handel

16 of 380 portraits matching these criteria:

- subject matching 'Disability'

George Frideric Handel, by Thomas Hudson, 1756 - NPG 3970 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

  • Larger Image
  • Image zoom
  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

George Frideric Handel

by Thomas Hudson
oil on canvas, 1756
94 in. x 57 1/2 in. (2388 mm x 1461 mm)
Purchased with help from the Handel Appeal Fund and H.M. Government, 1968
Primary Collection
NPG 3970

On display in Room 12 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Thomas Hudson (1701-1779), Portrait painter and art collector. Artist associated with 182 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The great composer is seen here in old age and by now blind, with the score of Messiah. Painted for Handel's friend, Charles Jennens, who selected the words for Messiah. The magnificent rococo frame with trophies of musical instruments and scores at top and bottom is original and may have been the work of Joseph Duffour, a leading carver and gilder of French origin. 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).

Related worksback to top

  • NPG D35305: George Frideric Handel (source portrait)

Linked publicationsback to top

  • 100 Portraits, p. 47
  • Audio Guide
  • Smartify image discovery app
  • 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. 29
  • Cooper, John, A Guide to the National Portrait Gallery, 2009, p. 30 Read entry

    Handel composed operas, oratorios, concertos and occasional music for fifty years. This portrait includes the score of Messiah.

  • Cooper, John, Visitor's Guide, 2000, p. 56
  • John Cooper, National Portrait Gallery Visitor's Guide, 2006, p. 56 Read entry

    Known as the Gopsall Portrait, after the house in Leicestershire of Charles Jennens, librettist of Messiah, who commissioned it, this commemorates the life’s work of the composer, who was by then blind and aged. It was secured for the nation in 1968 with the help of a special government grant and a public appeal.

  • Kerslake, John, Early Georgian Portraits, 1977, p. 123
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 277
  • 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. 160 Read entry

    Carved and gilt pine, mitred and keyed, much of the surface detail worked in the gesso. At top, violin and bow, tambourine, lyre, three wind instruments and sheet music; at bottom, three bound volumes of music. 7 1⁄ 4 inches wide with prominent centres and corners projecting 2 1⁄ 2 inches and trophies at top and bottom, projecting 14 inches and 10 inches respectively.

    This splendid frame in the rococo style, with its trophies of musical instruments, and scores at top and bottom, was designed for Hudson's full-length picture of Handel, showing the composer in old age. The portrait was painted in 1756 for Charles Jennens, librettist of Messiah, a rich man with a taste for ornate rococo interiors. There is, however, no evidence that the frame was designed for a particular location, since the portrait hung first in Jennens's London house and then at Gopsall, his country house in Leicestershire.

    The trophy at the top of the frame is based on a French engraving by Jacques Dumont after Jacques François and Marie Blondel, a source which the French carver, Jean Antoine Cuenot, used for the Music Room at Norfolk House, completed the very same year as the Handel frame (this room is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum).1

    The basic elements of the design are, however, found on a more modest scale on some other Hudson portraits of the 1750s, such as his Sir Peter Warren; these features include the prominent stylised shell centres, the piercing of the sides at the quarter points, the inset panels scored with a mesh of diagonal lines, and the sanded flat next to the gadrooned sight edge. The vocabulary suggests that Hudson's usual framemaker may have been responsible for making the frame to Jennens's order. What evidence there is as to his identity points to Joseph Duffour, another carver and gilder of French origin.

    1 See Desmond Fitz-Gerald, The Norfolk House Music Room, 1973, pl.40. For Cuenot's work for Norfolk House, see also NPG 5293.

  • Various contributors, National Portrait Gallery: A Portrait of Britain, 2014, p. 105 Read entry

    Born in Saxony, the composer George Frideric Handel worked in Halle, Hamburg, Italy and Hanover before settling in London, finally becoming a British citizen in 1727. He quickly became established in Britain, composing a succession of operas beginning with Rinaldo (1711) and writing church music for the Chapel Royal. His orchestral scores include Water Music, performed from barges on the Thames for George I in 1717, and Music for the Royal Fireworks (1749). One of his greatest achievements, however, was popularising the oratorio, a sort of religious musical drama. Handel’s most famous oratorio is Messiah, which was composed in twenty-four days. First performed in Dublin in 1742, it became a national institution within Handel’s lifetime.

    The lasting fame of Messiah is represented in this portrait by Thomas Hudson (1701–79), painted in 1756 for Charles Jennens, the librettist of many of Handel’s works, including this oratorio. The score is depicted on the table in front of the composer, despite the fact that by the time of this painting Handel had gone blind. In 1967, this important portrait was the subject of the National Portrait Gallery’s first public appeal.

Events of 1756back to top

Current affairs

Government falls after criticism of its handling of the Seven Years War. Prime Minister Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle is succeeded by William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire, who forms a ministry effectively run by William Pitt the Elder.

Art and science

Satiristist Thomas Rowlandson is born in Old Jewry in the City of London. His main rival James Gillray is born exactly a month later in Chelsea.
Completion of William Edwards' Old Bridge, Pontypridd; the longest single span bridge in Britain for the next forty years.

International

'Black Hole of Calcutta': a group of British prisoners, including East India Company servant John Zephaniah Holwell, are locked in a small, overcrowded dungeon overnight when Fort William in Calcutta is captured by troops of the Nawab of Bengal. Holwell claims 123 of the 146 prisoners died.
Outbreak of the Seven Years War in which Britain, Hanover, Prussia and Denmark are pitted against France, Austria, Russia and Sweden.

Tell us more back to top

Can you tell us more about this portrait? Spotted an error, information that is missing (a sitter’s life dates, occupation or family relationships, or a date of portrait for example) or do you know anything that we don't know? If you have information to share please complete the form below.

If you require information from us, please use our Archive enquiry service. You can buy a print of most illustrated portraits. Select the portrait of interest to you, then look out for a Buy a Print button. Prices start at £6 for unframed prints, £25 for framed prints. If you wish to license this image, please use our Rights and Images service.

Please note that we cannot provide valuations.

We digitise over 8,000 portraits a year and we cannot guarantee being able to digitise images that are not already scheduled.

What can you tell us?close

There are occasions when we are unsure of the identity of a sitter or artist, their life dates, occupation or have not recorded their family relationships. Sometimes we have not recorded the date of a portrait. Do you have specialist knowledge or a particular interest about any aspect of the portrait or sitter or artist that you can share with us? We would welcome any information that adds to and enhances our information and understanding about a particular portrait, sitter or artist.

Citationclose

How do you know this? Please could you let us know your source of information.

* Permission to publish (Privacy information)
Privacy Informationclose

The National Portrait Gallery will NOT use your information to contact you or store for any other purpose than to investigate or display your contribution. By ticking permission to publish you are indicating your agreement for your contribution to be shown on this collection item page. Please note your email address will not be displayed on the page nor will it be used for any marketing material or promotion of any kind.

Please ensure your comments are relevant and appropriate. Your contributions must be polite and with no intention of causing trouble. All contributions are moderated.

Your Emailclose

Contributions are moderated. We'll need your email address so that we can follow up on the information provided and contact you to let you know when your contribution has been published.