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General Phipps, Mrs Norton and 2nd Baron Alvanley at the theatre

20 of 55 portraits by Sir Edwin Henry Landseer

Regency Portraits Catalogue

General Phipps, Mrs Norton and 2nd Baron Alvanley at the theatre

by Edwin Landseer
circa 1834-1835
7 1/4 in. x 8 7/8 in. (184 mm x 225 mm)
NPG 4918

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed on the original mount in ink: General Phipps - Mrs Norton, Ld Alvanly Sir Ed Lr.

This portraitback to top

Fanny Kemble described seeing Mrs Norton at an evening party when 'her splendid head, neck and arms were adorned with magnificently simple Etruscan gold ornaments which she had brought from Rome ...' (Record of a Girlhood, 1878, I, p 289). Snake bandeaux of the type worn by Mrs Norton in Landseer's drawing were a fashionable by-product of the neo-classical revival. Another Landseer drawing of Mrs Norton with two male companions is inscribed: Xmas Box 1833 Covent Garden (BM Red Redleaf Scrapbook, p 25).

The 9 satirical drawings [NPG 4914-22] came from an album of 93 drawings, mostly by Landseer, others by Wilkie and D'Orsay, consisting of caricatures, figure and animal studies. The majority are in pen and brown ink, some with brown wash, a few with additions in red chalk, watercolour or sealing wax. The collection was probably formed by Charles Bennet, 6th Earl of Tankerville who as Lord Ossulston was MP for North Northumberland 1832-59 and very much a man about town. Landseer's first meeting with Ossulston is described dramatically in Reminiscences of Life in the Highlands, Landseer being caught red-handed poaching a stag in Glen Feshie forest.
They became firm friends and the 'Hunting of Chevy Chase' (Birmingham Art Gallery) was conceived on a visit to Chillingham in 1825. The first drawing in the album was Landseer and a servant leaving Chillingham Castle 27 September 1835; the earliest dated drawing was 1832, the latest, an illustrated letter from Landseer to Ossulston, 10 October 1852. The album was probably put together at Chillingham Castle by Lady Ida Tankerville, Lord Ossulston's daughter (b. 1857) who married the 13th Earl of Dalhousie in 1877, and was in the family possession until its sale at Christie's in 1972.

Physical descriptionback to top

In a box at the theatre General Phipps, lean and emaciated stands to left holding spectacles and a programme; Mrs Norton (see Richard Ormond, National Portrait Gallery: Early Victorian Portraits, 1973, pp 432-3), a plump figure in glasses, pendant ear-ring and hair-style of 1834-7, leans intently on the edge of the box; Lord Alvanley stands resignedly in the right background supporting his corpulent figure against a screen.

Provenanceback to top

Chillingham Castle (Earl of Tankerville), Lady Ida Tankerville and to her grandson David Patrick Ramsay, Christie's 11 July 1972 (23) bought Agnew and sold to the NPG.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.

View all known portraits for William Arden, 2nd Baron Alvanley

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View all known portraits for Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton (née Sheridan, later Lady Stirling-Maxwell)

View all known portraits for Edmund Phipps