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Fanny Burney

1 of 5 portraits of Fanny Burney

Fanny Burney, by Edward Francisco Burney, circa 1784-1785 -NPG 2634 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Fanny Burney

by Edward Francisco Burney
circa 1784-1785
30 in. x 25 in. (762 mm x 635 mm)
NPG 2634

Inscriptionback to top

Christie's label 20 June 1930 and stencil 444FD.

This portraitback to top

Fanny Burney recorded in her Diary for 12 August 1782 the arrival at Chessington of her cousin Edward 'well loaded with canvases, pencils and painting materials' in order to paint the portraits of Daddy Crisp and Mrs Gast. 'The instant dinner was over, to my utter surprise and consternation, I was called into the room appropriated for Edward and his pictures, and informed that I was to sit to him for Mr Crisp! Remonstrances were unavailing, and declarations of aversion to the design were only ridiculed; both daddies interfered, and when I ran off, brought me back between them and compelled my obedience; - and from that time to this, nothing has gone forward but picture-sitting!' This girlish behaviour (Fanny was then aged 30) continued for some time for in a letter to Molesworth Phillips she says, ‘I believe if I am not under written, no one would guess he ever saw me, much less that I sat for the Picture called mine. Never was Portrait so violently flattered …' These August 1782 sittings resulted in the well-known portrait of Fanny in a black hat and Van Dyck dress with slashed lilac sleeves, later belonging to Archdeacon Charles Burney and now at Parham Park. This was engraved in mezzotint by Charles Turner and published in 1840, though unfortunately without the slashed sleeves.
The NPG portrait shows Fanny in the costume of two or three years later. The magnificent hat with wide brim and puffed up crown was known as a Lunardi after a popular hero of the day, Vincenzo Lunardi, who made a spectacular balloon voyage from London to Ware in September 1784. This second portrait with its prominent nose, less sugary expression and close resemblance to her father, has sometimes been preferred to the other (C. Hill, The House in St Martin's Street, 1907, p 338). Fanny herself does not seem to have mentioned it in her Diary.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length seated to left, dressed in the fashion of about 1785, a large straw hat decorated with a gauze rosette lavishly trimmed with goldish-brown ribbons, pearl-white dress and fichu with old-rose coloured bow, black lace shawl, black gloves; blue eyes, fair powdered hair in ringlets, fresh pink complexion; cloudy sky background.

Provenanceback to top

Burney family until sold at Christie's by order of C. H. C. P. Burney Esq and the Trustees of the will of the late Colonel Henry Edward Burney 20 June 1930 (122) bought Gooden & Fox; Sir Leicester Harmsworth and bought from the Harmsworth Trust with help from the NACF in 1933.

Exhibitionsback to top

Exhibition of the Royal House of Guelph, New Gallery, 1891 (259) lent by the Rev Henry Burney; 'The Four Georges', 25 Park Lane, 1931 (20) lent by Sir Leicester Harmsworth; 'Bi-centenary of Charles Burney's General History of Music', King's Lynn, 1976.

Reproductionsback to top

Photogravures published in NPG copy of Diary and Letters II part ii frontispiece, and in Constance Hill, Juniper Hall, 1904.


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 Frances d'Arblay ('Fanny Burney')