- Extended Catalogue Entry
by Thomas Gainsborough
oil on canvas, circa 1753
49 3/4 in. x 40 7/8 in. (1264 mm x 1038 mm)
Artistback to top
- Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788), Portrait and landscape painter. Artist associated with 263 portraits, Sitter in 8 portraits.
This portraitback to top
Thomas Gainsborough's portrait shows Admiral Edward 'Old Grog' Vernon (1684-1757). He led the capture of the Spanish colonial possession of Porto Bello (now in Panama) during the War of Jenkins' Ear in 1739. Vernon's greatest claim to fame, was his 1740 order that his crew's rum rations should be diluted with water and have lemon juice added to prevent scurvy. The rest of the Navy rapidly followed, calling the new drink 'grog' after Vernon's nickname. 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).
Linked publicationsback to top
Events of 1753back to top
Current affairsAfter a month's absence, servant Elizabeth Canning returns to her mother's house claiming that she was abducted. The following trial causes uproar and becomes one of the most famous criminal mysteries of the century.
Hardwicke's Marriage Act (named after its champion Philip Yorke, 1st Earl of Hardwicke) is passed, aimed at preventing clandestine marriages.
Art and scienceArtist Joshua Reynolds establishes his portrait practice in London.
Swiss painter and pastellist Jean-Etienne Liotard arrives in London where he enjoys great success until his departure in 1756.
InternationalGeorge Washington undertakes a difficult and ineffectual journey to persuade the French to withdraw from the Ohio valley.
First steam engine arrives in the American colonies.
First official celebration of St Patrick's Day on 17 March, organised by the Charitable Irish Society in Boston.
Britain, Austria and Modena sign a secret military treaty.
View a wide collection of video content on our YouTube channel from past projects to our latest films.
Artist and sitter interviews
Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.
Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.
Tell us more
Framed & unframed prints