Frederick, Duke of York and Albany

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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Frederick, Duke of York and Albany

by Sir David Wilkie
oil on panel, circa 1822-1823
23 1/4 in. x 20 1/2 in. (591 mm x 521 mm)
Purchased, 1938
Primary Collection
NPG 2936

On display in Room 15 on Floor 3 at the National Portrait Gallery


This frame was chosen for the portrait by the…

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841), Painter. Artist or producer associated with 17 portraits, Sitter in 21 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Although Wilkie took sittings for this portrait in his Kensington studio he depicted the Duke at home in York House. The paper he reads may be the 'Horse Guards Memorandum' of 1822 that ordered a new type of sword for general officers; both old and new types of sword are found in the picture. The portrait was commissioned by the Duke's military secretary, Sir Willoughby Gordon in 1818, and still in its original frame of a type associated with Wilkie.

Linked publicationsback to top

  • Smartify image discovery app
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 684
  • 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. 103, 168 Read entry

    Gilt compo on pine, mitred and probably pinned, the frame apparently made in three sections with the sight edge section pinned and rebated into the central section, oil gilt on a pale ground visible at various old damages, the gilding largely original except on the sight edge and at old repairs, the top of the coronet missing above the Garter ribbon. 5 3⁄ 4 inches wide including slip.

    Wilkie's portrait of the Duke of York, a commission from General Sir Willoughby Gordon, was not finished until 1823 when it was exhibited at the Royal Academy. This frame, with its rather restrained centre and corner motifs and the all-over small-scale compo ornamentation, is of the type favoured by Wilkie in the 1820s and 1830s. To take two examples, both his Chelsea Pensioners reading the Waterloo Despatch of 1822 (Apsley House) and his late portrait of William IV of 1837 (National Portrait Gallery, on loan to Bodelwyddan Castle) have frames which, although differing in detail, conform to this taste. Wilkie used a number of framemakers including Benjamin Charpentier and David Ross in the early years of his career, Thomas Macdonald from c.1813-22,1 and Francis Collins in the late 1820s.2

    1 See H. A. D. Miles, Fourteen Small Pictures by Wilkie, exhibition catalogue, The Fine Art Society Ltd, London, 1994, p 20. See also H. A. D. Miles and D. B. Brown, Sir David Wilkie of Scotland (1785-1841), exhibition catalogue, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, 1987, nos.17, 18, 20; see also no.13 where Wilkie refers to a 'flat French frame' made by Charpentier in a letter of 1811 to Sir George Beaumont.

    2 See Oliver Millar, The Later Georgian Portraits in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen, 1969, pp 137-142.

  • Walker, Richard, Regency Portraits, 1985, p. 581

Placesback to top

Events of 1822back to top

Current affairs

Lord Castlereagh (the Marquis of Londonderry) commits suicide after a blackmail campaign against him.
Tory cabinet joined by liberals George Canning and Robert Peel. Canning is appointed Foreign Secretary.

Art and science

John Nash completes the remodelling of the King's villa, the Brighton Pavilion and begins plans for the new layout of Regent Street and Regent's Park.
The Caledonian Canal opens to link eastern to western Scotland.
The Sunday Times is founded.


David Wilkie exhibits celebrated Chelsea Pensioners at the Royal Academy to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. It proves so popular a rail has to be erected to protect it.
First major failure of the potato crop in Ireland. A large-scale public works programme is implemented to provide employment.

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Jeremy Mitchell

29 March 2018, 16:05

Allan Cunningham. The Life of Sir David Wilkie. London: John Murray, 1843. Vols I, II and III.

The following is an extract from Wilkie’s Journal to be found in Vol.II, p 15: entry for Jan 1819:
“23, Sir Willoughby Gordon wrote to me to-day to say, that the Duke of York had consented to sit for the portrait, and would come to my house, when necessary, for the purpose. Wrote to Sir Willoughby in answer, and agreed to meet him at York House, on Tuesday next, to look at the apartment that is to be the scene of the picture. The price not less than 100 guineas, nor more than 150.”