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.

William Pitt Amherst, 1st Earl Amherst of Arracan

William Pitt Amherst, 1st Earl Amherst of Arracan, by Arthur William Devis, based on a work of circa 1803 -NPG 1546 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

William Pitt Amherst, 1st Earl Amherst of Arracan

after Arthur William Devis
based on a work of circa 1803
42 3/8 in. x 32 3/4 in. (1076 mm x 831 mm)
NPG 1546

This portraitback to top

NPG 1546 is a small copy of a full-sized whole-length by A. W. Devis showing Amherst in the uniform of the St James's Volunteers of which he was gazetted Colonel 31 May 1798. According to Dunkarton's mezzotint the original was painted in 1803 for the St James's Loyal Volunteer Regiment 'pursuant to a Resolution passed at a General Meeting the 9th of December 1802'. The St James's Loyal Volunteers were raised in June 1797 to assist the Civil Powers in case of riot or invasion. Lord Amherst was their Colonel and the Colours were presented by the Duchess of York in July 1798. They were disbanded after the Peace of Amiens and revived in June 1803 as the St James's Westminster Volunteers with Amherst still as Colonel. Devis's original portrait, commissioned by the Regiment during the peace negotiations, was acquired by Lord Amherst after the War, lent by his descendant to the War Office in 1926, sold at Sotheby's (Amherst sale) 29 January 1964 (6) and again at Christie's 23 November 1973 (28), the buyer wishing to remain anonymous. The NPG copy, probably contemporary, is an anaemic affair compared to the swarthy swashbuckler of the original.

Physical descriptionback to top

Whole-length in volunteer's uniform, his right hand on cane, left on sword-belt; scarlet jacket, dark blue or black facings and collar with gilt edging, gold epaulettes, gilt gorget and buttons, gilt sword-hilt, dark blue or black trousers, black helmet with plume white out of red, pink sash, silver spurs on high black boots; landscape with trees in background.

Provenanceback to top

Family possession and descending to his granddaughter, Mary Sarah, who married the 2nd Earl Egerton in 1857; bequeathed to the NPG by Lord Egerton in 1909 - '... my Picture of the 1st Earl Amherst in the uniform of the Westminster Volunteers' (from Lord Egerton's will 1909).

Reproductionsback to top

(of the original)
Mezzotint by R. Dunkarton published 12 September 1805.


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.