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Matthew Boulton

Matthew Boulton, by Unknown artist, circa 1770 -NPG 1532 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Matthew Boulton

by Unknown artist
circa 1770
22 3/4 in. x 19 1/2 in. (578 mm x 495 mm)
NPG 1532

This portraitback to top

Lionel Muirhead, the historian of Boulton and Watt, described the Miss Wilkinson referred to in the provenance as one who ‘drew not at all badly’ and ‘keen on employing others who were struggling artists, & she probably either made this copy herself, or employed someone to do it for her, & this is probably the explanation of her giving it away’; he considered it likely that NPG 1532 was a copy, [1] and his judgment seems supported by the fact that it is painted on a recycled canvas.
The features closely resemble those of the half-length portrait by J. S. C. Schaak dated 1770 in the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and of an unattributed half-length pastel showing Boulton examining a small urn (with Sotheby’s, 1976; photograph NPG archive).

Footnotesback to top

1) Letter of 10 February 1909; NPG archive.

Physical descriptionback to top

Brown eyes, grey powdered hair, brown coat yellowish waistcoat, white neckcloth.

Provenanceback to top

According to Robert Price, from whom it was purchased in 1909, NPG 1532 hung at Soho, the sitter’s Birmingham home, until the death of Matthew Robinson Boulton in 1836, when it was presented by his wife’s sister, Miss Wilkinson to Mr John Thomas, the Head Clerk at Soho Foundry, on whose death ‘it was presented by his widow to my Father who succeeded him in office and who was 40 years in the Firms service and it passed to me on his death in 1895’.1

1 Letters of 6 and 28 January 1909 from Robert Price (NPG archive).

Exhibitionsback to top

Regency Portraits, Kenwood, 1986.


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 Matthew Boulton

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