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.

Advanced Collection search

Frederick, Duke of York and Albany

© National Portrait Gallery, London

 Like voting
is closed

Thanks for Liking

Please Like other favourites!
If they inspire you please support our work.

Buy a print Make a donation Close
  • Buy a print
  • Use this image
  • ShareShare this

Frederick, Duke of York and Albany

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


This frame was chosen for the portrait by the…

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841), Painter. Artist 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 1823back to top

Current affairs

Gaols Act is passed to build new prisons, raise standards in old ones and institute regular inspections. It is prompted by the vigorous campaigning of reformers such as Elizabeth Fry, leader of the Ladies Association for the Improvement of Female Prisoners in Newgate Prison.
Anti-Slavery Committee is founded in London.

Art and science

Architect, Robert Smirke begins construction of the British Museum.
Thomas Wakley founds The Lancet, the first weekly medical journal and important mouthpiece of medical reform.
Charles Babbage begins work on the first calculating machine.
Charles Macintosh invents waterproof fabric.


Catholic Association is founded by Daniel O'Connell in Ireland in an attempt to mobilise and politicise the entire Irish Catholic population in a systematic challenge to the ruling Protestant ascendancy.
War breaks out between France and Spain.
English missionary John Smith died in prison having been sentenced to be hanged for failing to take up arms against slaves in Demerara.

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.

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.”

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.


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.