- Extended Catalogue Entry
by Sir Joshua Reynolds
oil on canvas, 1766-1768
49 3/4 in. x 39 3/4 in. (1264 mm x 1010 mm)
Accepted in lieu of tax by H.M. Government and allocated to the Gallery, 1965
Sitterback to top
- Warren Hastings (1732-1818), Governor-General of India. Sitter associated with 47 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), Painter and first President of the Royal Academy. Artist associated with 1415 portraits, Sitter associated with 39 portraits.
This portraitback to top
As Governor of India, Warren Hastings completed the transformation of the East India Company into a great military and naval power. An admirer of Indian culture, he co-operated where possible with native rulers but sometimes used methods more easily defended locally than in Whitehall. His impeachment for corruption in 1788 resulted in acquittal in 1795. He is seen in this magnificent portrait by Reynolds with a pile of papers, a pot of ink with a quill and a seal with Persian script. There was a vogue at this time amongst Englishmen for seals giving their name in Persian; this particular seal however has proved difficult to decipher. Acquired by H.M. Governent and allocated to the Gallery, 1965.
Linked publicationsback to top
- Audio Guide
- Smartify image discovery app
- Bayly, Christopher, The Raj: India and the British 1600-1947, 1990 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 19 October 1990 - 17 March 1991), p. 114
- Ingamells, John, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, 2004, p. 239
- Ribeiro, Aileen, The Gallery of Fashion, 2000, p. 125
- Ribeiro, Aileen; Blackman, Cally, A Portrait of Fashion: Six Centuries of Dress at the National Portrait Gallery, 2015, p. 135
- Ross, Josephine, Jane Austen and her World, 2017, p. 29
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery: An Illustrated Guide, 2000, p. 101
- Saumarez Smith, Charles, The National Portrait Gallery, 1997, p. 101 Read entry
Warren Hastings, educated as a King's Scholar at Westminster, was sent out to India by his guardian as an administrator. In 1764 he returned to England with plans for the establishment of the East India College at Haileybury and made friends with Dr Johnson. On 9 September 1768, shortly before his return to Madras, he paid 70 guineas for his portrait by Reynolds. It shows him as a young man, highly intelligent, well dressed, socially and intellectually ambitious, and not without a touch of conceit. Hastings subsequently became Governor of Bengal and Governor-General of India, but was impeached on the grounds of corruption in 1787, and only cleared in 1795 after a trial that cost him £70,000.
- Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 286
Events of 1766back to top
Current affairsCharles Edward Stuart ('Bonnie Prince Charlie') becomes the new Stuart claimant to the throne of Great Britain and figurehead for Jacobitism on the death of his father James Stuart, Pretender since 1701.
Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham is dismissed as Prime Minister and succeeded by William Pitt the Elder.
Stamp Act, passed the previous year, is repealed.
Art and scienceSwiss painter Angelica Kauffmann settles in London.
Oliver Goldsmith publishes his novel The Vicar of Wakefield.
Chemist Henry Cavendish publishes his paper 'On Factitious Airs' which is generally credited with showing the discovery of hydrogen.
First golf club in England opens at Blackheath in Kent.
Christie's auction house is founded in London.
InternationalNavigator and Royal Navy officer John Byron returns to England after his circumnavigation of the globe; the first to be completed in under two years. He takes possession of the Falkland Islands on behalf of Britain during his voyage.
German writer Gotthold Ephraim Lessing publishes his important work of literary criticism Laokoon; An Essay on the Limits of Painting and Poetry.
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