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Sir William Chambers; Joseph Wilton; Sir Joshua Reynolds

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Sir William Chambers; Joseph Wilton; Sir Joshua Reynolds

by John Francis Rigaud
oil on canvas, 1782
46 1/2 in. x 56 1/2 in. (1181 mm x 1435 mm)
Purchased, 1895
Primary Collection
NPG 987

On display in Room 18 on Floor 3 at the National Portrait Gallery

Sittersback to top

Artistback to top

  • John Francis Rigaud (1742-1810), Painter. Artist or producer associated with 8 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This portrait depicts the three leading members of the Royal Academy in 1782, Treasurer, Keeper (from 1790) and President respectively. Chambers the architect holds a set square and points to an architectural plan, Wilton the sculptor holds a mallet and Reynolds the painter leans on a portfolio which includes an outline representation of Reynolds's portrait of Chambers which the artist gave to the Royal Academy. Wilton gestures towards a statue of the Apollo Belvedere, a reference to the three men's classicizing styles. The frame is Dutch 17th century but with added figures at the top symbolising architecture, sculpture and painting to match the sitters' professions.

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Events of 1782back to top

Current affairs

Frederick North, 2nd Earl of Guilford resigns as Prime Minister over recent setbacks in America and is succeeded by Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham who takes office for the second time. Rockingham dies on 1 July and is succeeded by William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne.
Repeal of Poynings Law and Declaratory Act of 1720 gives virtual legislative autonomy to Ireland.

Art and science

After a poor reception in the mid 1770s, actress Sarah Siddons makes a triumphant return to the Drury Lane Theatre, London in the title role of Isabella, or, The Fatal Marriage. She will become the century's best known tragic actress.
Clergyman and artist William Gilpin publishes Observations on the River Wye; a central text in the formulation of the concept of the picturesque.


American War of Independence: Siege of Gibraltar reaches a climax in the Grand Assault but French and Spanish forces are unsuccessful. Britain loses Minorca prompting the Prime Minister, Lord Rockingham, to open peace talks with the Americans. Thomas Grenville is sent to Paris to negotiate with Benjamin Franklin.
Paper manufacturer Joseph Montgolfier sends a hot-air balloon 1000 meters into the air, in front of a crowd in the Ardèche in France.

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