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Thomas Clarkson

Thomas Clarkson, by Carl Fredrik von Breda, 1788 -NPG 235 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Thomas Clarkson

by Carl Fredrik von Breda
1788
35 3/4 in. x 27 3/4 in. (908 mm x 705 mm)
NPG 235

This portraitback to top

The portrait was painted during von Breda's visit to London where he became strongly influenced by Reynolds. Clarkson was a member of the committee formed on 22 May 1787 for the suppression of the slave trade and the Essay which figures in the portrait was published in May 1788. The portrait was painted that year, Young's mezzotint being published in May 1789. The silvery grey tones are typical of von Breda's work and earned him the soubriquet of 'the Swedish Van Dyck'.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length seated to right aged c.30, inscribing with a quill the title-page of An Essay on the Impolicy of [the African Slave Trade]; blue eyes, grey wig, florid complexion; bluish-grey coat, white shirt-frill; plain yellowish-buff background; leather upholstered chair with brass studs.

Provenanceback to top

Henry Crabb Robinson and bequeathed by him in 1867 (a copy of the relevant paragraph in his will, 12 March 1865, in NPG archive).

Exhibitionsback to top

RA 1789 (263); Clarkson bi-centenary exhibition in Wisbech Museum and Literary Institute 1960; loan to Dove Cottage since 1979.

Reproductionsback to top

Mezzotint by John Young published 3 May 1789.


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 Thomas Clarkson

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