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Anna Maria Jenkins; Thomas Jenkins

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Anna Maria Jenkins; Thomas Jenkins

by Angelica Kauffmann
oil on canvas, 1790
51 in. x 37 1/4 in. (1295 mm x 946 mm)
Purchased, 1975
Primary Collection
NPG 5044

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • Angelica Kauffmann (1741-1807), Painter. Artist associated with 22 portraits, Sitter in 9 portraits.

This portraitback to top

The art dealer and banker Thomas Jenkins was sometimes considered England's unofficial ambassador in Rome. His niece, Anna Maria, went to live with him in 1788. In 1790 she was searching for a husband and this portrait can be viewed as an advertisement of her charms. The rural setting, with distant view of the Colosseum, her white dress and the flowers she holds, all signify Anna Maria's beauty and purity. Welcoming potential suitors, her uncle takes off his hat and pats the dog - symbol of loyalty - whose collar reads 'Jenkins'.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Gibson, Robin, The Face in the Corner: Animal Portraits from the Collections of the National Portrait Gallery, 1998, p. 50
  • Ingamells, John, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, 2004, p. 285
  • Robin Gibson, Pets in Portraits, 2015, p. 79 Read entry

    Thomas Jenkins went to Rome in the early 1760s to study painting. Finding he could make a better living from dealing in the wealth of antiquities currently being excavated, he remained there for the rest of his life and added banking to his accomplishments. Despite an unsavoury reputation for manufacturing and improving upon some of his antiquities, and taking hefty commissions for the sale of visiting artists' work, Jenkins was genuinely helpful to a number of artists, obtaining access for them to copy works in private collections and acting as their agent. He had handled the Swiss-born artist Angelica Kauffmann's financial affairs since she had arrived to settle in Rome with her new husband in 1782. A genuinely international figure, she had attracted the notice of the great classical scholar and art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann with her dainty neo-classical paintings in Rome twenty years earlier, before moving to England in 1766. There she became a protégée of Sir Joshua Reynolds, a founder member of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and was employed by the Adam brothers to decorate rooms and ceilings.

    Kauffmann was obviously content with Jenkins's services, for she gave him as a gift this portrait of himself with the niece who had recently arrived to live with him in Rome. In the Memorandum of her pictures, she scrupulously noted: 'For Mr. Thomas Jenkins, English ... the portrait of the above and of his niece Anna Maria, likewise the portrait of the pet dog.' Nothing else is known of the pet dog, though its specific inclusion in the portrait, Jenkins's protective hand and the dog's look of adoration in return make it clear that this was a domestic rather than a sporting relationship. It looks a bit like a collie, but since Jenkins had been in Rome for nearly thirty years it is more likely to have been some sort of native Italian sheepdog. In the sylvan background, Kauffmann has included a somewhat incongruous view of the Colosseum, little suspecting perhaps that it was from a reliable contact there that Jenkins obtained many of his fake antiquities.

  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 336

Placesback to top

  • Place portrayed: Italy (The Colosseum, Rome)

Events of 1790back to top

Current affairs

Attempts to modify the Test and Corporation Acts are defeated, despite campaigning by dissenters such as the prominent Unitarian preacher and pamphleteer, Richard Price. The Acts prevented those outside the established church from holding government or military office.

Art and science

Joseph Mallord William Turner exhibits his first painting at the Royal Academy; a watercolour of The Archbishop's Palace, Lambeth.
The Firth to Clyde and Oxford to Birmingham canals are begun.


Edmund Burke publishes Reflections on the Revolution in France. A landmark work of opposition to the Revolution which offered a critique of the radical philosophy behind events in France; the Reflections have been read as an articulation of the foundations of modern British conservatism. George Vancouver explores the north west coast of America.

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