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Christopher Anstey with his daughter

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Christopher Anstey with his daughter

by William Hoare
circa 1775
49 3/4 in. x 39 3/4 in. (1265 mm x 1010 mm)
NPG 3084

This portraitback to top

The little girl tries to distract Anstey from his verse composition with a fashionably-dressed doll, whose excessive hair style recalls his own New Bath Guide of 1766 (letter XII):

'Those tresses, which Venus might take as a favour,
Fall a victim at once to an outlandish shaver;
When lo! on a sudden, a monster appears,
A horrible monster, to cover her ears;-.' [1]


A version of the composition, with the child omitted, was engraved in 1807 for Anstey’s Poetical Works [2] as from a drawing by Lawrence, the plate giving Anstey’s age as fifty two, i.e. c.1776. The composition, and even the girl’s head-dress, resembles Wright of Derby’s Rev Thomas Wilson and Miss Macaulay painted in Bath c.1776. [3] Hoare made a bust-length etching of Anstey in 1778-79. Such evidence suggests NPG 3084 dates from soon after 1776; it may well have been the portrait of A gentleman and his daughter half lengths exhibited by Hoare in 1779. Such dating implies that the little girl is one of Anstey’s younger daughters. [4]
In 1913, when NPG 3084 had acquired attributions to both Gainsborough [5] and Lawrence, [6] Horace Buttery suggested it was by Hoare, [7] an attribution subsequently supported by the discovery of an early-nineteenth-century label on the frame. The head from NPG 3084 appears to have been copied in the portrait attributed to Simmons in the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath (c.1780).

Footnotesback to top

1) See A. Ribeiro, The Art of Dress, 1995, pp 49-50; Ribeiro 2000, pp 130-32, and Anstey’s ‘Epistola poetica familiaris’, Works, 1808, pp 403-04.
2) Edited by his son John Anstey and published in 1808.
3) Illus. Bath History, VI, 1996, p 138.
4) Anstey had four daughters: Mary Ann (1763-1829; see Gentleman's Magazine, XCIX, 1829, I, p 381) and Elizabeth (both unmarried); Caroline (Mrs Henry Bosanquet) and Sarah (Mrs Thomas Sotheby); note by J. Simon from the Wills of Anstey and his wife (PRO B 11/1432 and 1530).
5) So described on a photograph of 1913 (NPG archives).
6) W. Armstrong, Lawrence, 1913, p 110.
7) He also associated it with the RA 1779 exhibit (letter to Mrs Sambourne-Palmer, 24 June 1913; NPG archive).

Physical descriptionback to top

Brown eyes, grey powdered hair, wearing a white neckcloth, blue suit, writing (deliberately illegible) verse; the girl has brown eyes and wears a white dress with a pink sash, and a cap of ruched silk gauze; in her hand a doll with a fantastic head-dress and pink dress.

Provenanceback to top

This Portrait of my honoured father by Hoar of Bath is given by the wish of my eldest Brother, the late Revd. Christopher Anstey [1755-1827] to myself for Life, after my death to my Brother Thomas Anstey [c.1770-1843] for life and after his death to our nephew Christopher John Anstey absolutely./A. A. Calvert;1 the Rev John Filmer Anstey, thence by descent to the sitter’s great-great-grand-daughter, Caroline Mary Anstey, Mrs Samsbourne-Palmer, by whom bequeathed 1940.

1 Label, presumably c.1830 formerly on the frame, probably written by Arthur, the sitter's youngest son (cf. c.1765 below), found beneath a second label: Portrait of the late Christopher Anstey Esqr. Author of the Poetical New Bath Guide by Hoare/J T Anstey [d. 1843].

Exhibitionsback to top

RA 1779 (130, A gentleman and his daughter half lengths), Childhood, Camden Arts Centre, 1967 (32); Hoare, Bath, 1990 (39); Innocence and Experience, Manchester, Hull, Nottingham, Glasgow, 1992-93 (7); The New Child, Berkeley, Memphis, Tenn, Omaha, 1995-96 (cat. pl.30); Gainsborough, Tate Gallery, 2002-03 (74); Beningbrough 1979 -.

Reproductionsback to top

Without the child, by W. Bond 1807, as Aetat 52 after Lawrence.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, 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 Christopher Anstey