William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham

© National Portrait Gallery, London

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William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham

studio of William Hoare
oil on canvas, circa 1754
49 3/4 in. x 39 3/4 in. (1264 mm x 1010 mm)
Purchased, 1896
Primary Collection
NPG 1050


This handsome rococo frame with its bold swep…

Sitterback to top

Artistback to top

  • William Hoare (1707-1792), Portrait painter. Artist or producer associated with 74 portraits, Sitter in 6 portraits.

This portraitback to top

Possibly one of the several versions of the portrait that Chatham described in 1754 as 'the very best thing [Hoare] has yet done, in point of likeness'. 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

  • Kerslake, John, Early Georgian Portraits, 1977, p. 45
  • Saywell, David; Simon, Jacob, Complete Illustrated Catalogue, 2004, p. 119
  • 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. 63, 160 Read entry

    Carved and gilt pine, mitred and keyed, two layers of burnished water gilding over much of the surface, one on a yellow bole, the other plum, and oil gilt on top resulting in much loss of detail the tops of the foliage carving damaged in various places. 4 1⁄ 4 inches wide, 5 3⁄ 4 inches at centres of sides, 7 1⁄ 2 inches at top cresting.

    This handsome rococo frame with its bold swept sides, rocaille carving and heavy sculptural centres and corners, is a striking design of the late 1750s or early 1760s. In its boldness and rhythm it is a simplified version of an engraved design published by Lock and Copland in 1752. The type does not appear to have been taken up widely but is found on a small number of portraits of the period including Allan Ramsay's Sir William Guise of 1761 (Guise Family), Joshua Reynolds's Sir Charles Saunders of 1765 (National Maritime Museum), and, on a smaller scale, Richard Brompton's Charles Graham of 1769 (Sotheby's, 10 July 1996, lot 48). Closely related in style is the frame now on the rather later Gainsborough full-length, Madame Baccelli (Tate Gallery).

    This image of Pitt the Elder is known in several versions by William Hoare or from his studio and may date to 1754 or a few years later. The frame type is quite different from William Hoare's and, if original to the picture, was presumably chosen by the commissioner of the portrait. Unfortunately its history cannot be traced back with confidence earlier than the 2nd Baron Bridport in 1832.

Events of 1754back to top

Current affairs

Death of the Prime Minister Henry Pelham. He is succeeded by his brother Thomas Pelham-Holles, 1st Duke of Newcastle.
General election increases the Whig party's majority

Art and science

Scottish chemist Joseph Black identifies carbon dioxide.
Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacture and Commerce (Society of Arts) is established in London.
Designer and cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale publishes his first catalogue of furniture.
Philosopher David Hume's expansive and best-selling six-volume History of Great Britain begins publication.


Albany Congress: the British colonies negotiate with the native-American Iroquois in the face of the French threat in the Ohio valley. Benjamin Franklin proposes that the colonies should unite to form a colonial government. The pro-union woodcut he publishes of a snake cut into eight pieces, entitled 'Join or Die', becomes America's first political cartoon.
George Washington kills ten French troops at Fort Duquesne.

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