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Sir Francis Buller, 1st Bt

Sir Francis Buller, 1st Bt, by Mather Brown, 1792 -NPG 458 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Sir Francis Buller, 1st Bt

by Mather Brown
49 1/4 in. x 39 in. (1251 mm x 991 mm)
NPG 458

This portraitback to top

A preliminary chalk study for the head is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (PG 451). [1] The reversed stipple engraving by F. Bartolozzi first published in 1794 [2] differs from NPG 458 in detail: Buller sits in a plain chair, his left hand [3] rests on papers lying on a table beside an ink well, and the folds of the robes and curtain are differently disposed. A version, descended from the Buller family, shows a book in his right hand and Lincoln’s Inn instead of Westminster Abbey in the distance. [4]

Footnotesback to top

1) Illus. D. Evans, Mather Brown: an early American artist in England, 1982, fig.93.
2) Reissued in 1823 as M. Browne Pinxt-F. Bartolozzi Direxit.
3) i.e. the right hand in NPG 458.
4) Sold Sotheby’s, 9 July 1980, lot 117a, and Christie’s, 13 February 1981, lot 24; D. Evans, Mather Brown: an early American artist in England, 1982, no.32.

Physical descriptionback to top

Blue eyes, white wig, wearing judicial robes: red cape and gown trimmed with white fur with a black sash; he sits on a ‘Gothic’ throne, a green drape with gold tassels above him; a view of Westminster Abbey to the right.

Provenanceback to top

Presented by the Society of Judges and Serjeants-at-Law 1877.1

1 D. Evans, Mather Brown: an early American artist in England, 1982, p 201, records that NPG 458 was said erroneously to have been sold by Lord Haldon (by F. P. Seguier, Dictionary of Monograms, I, f.151v; British Library), but this was the Buller family’s version sold Christie’s, 28 February 1891, lot 52, - the same day as the Haldon pictures were sold.

Exhibitionsback to top

RA 1792 (391);1 long loan to the Royal Courts of Justice; Lord Mansfield, Kenwood, 1971 (26); Art on the Line, Courtauld Gallery, 2001 (36).

1 Evans assumes that NPG 458 was the version exhibited.

Reproductionsback to top

F. Bartolozzi 1794; J. Owen, 1799 (bust length; Public Characters of 1798-99); Orme jr. 1800 (European Mag.; half-length oval).

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.

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