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Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis

15 of 262 portraits by Thomas Gainsborough

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis

by Thomas Gainsborough
1783
29 1/2 in. x 24 1/2 in. (749 mm x 622 mm)
NPG 281

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed upper left: CHARLES EARL CORNWALLIS.

This portraitback to top

Cornwallis had returned from his American campaigns in January 1782. Early in 1783 he and Lord Rawdon, a fellow officer from the American war, were sitting to Gainsborough for their portraits, for presentation to each other. Cornwallis’s picture was hung in the Royal Academy exhibition that year and was considered a good likeness. [1] According to the provenance, NPG 281 was this portrait; the version in the Royal Collection, painted for the Prince of Wales, was presumably painted soon after [2] and differs only in the set of the shoulders which are inclined to the right.

Footnotesback to top

1) This account is taken from W. T. Whitley, Thomas Gainsborough, 1915, pp 194-95.
2) E. K. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, 1958, no.167; Sir Oliver Millar, The Later Georgian Pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty The Queen, I, 1969, no.799; Gainsborough & Reynolds, Contrasts in Royal Patronage, exhibition catalogue, The Queen's Gallery, 1994, no.21.

Referenceback to top

Waterhouse 1953
E. K. Waterhouse, ‘Preliminary Check List of Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough’, Wal. Soc., XXXIII, 1953, p 24.

Waterhouse 1958
E. K. Waterhouse, Gainsborough, 1958., no.168.

Physical descriptionback to top

Blue eyes, powdered hair, lieutenant-general’s uniform, bright red coat, with blue revers and gold trim, gold buttons and gold epaulette on his right shoulder. Within a painted oval; brown spandrels.

Provenanceback to top

Francis, Lord Rawdon (later Marquess of Hastings, d. 1826); his heirs’ sale, Philips, 26 February 1869, lot 215, bought Graves for the NPG.

Exhibitionsback to top

RA 1783 (45); The Past We Share, Dallas, 1967 (17); 1776, National Maritime Museum, 1976 (537); Battle of Yorktown, Yorktown, Va., 1981; The Raj, NPG, 1990-91 (152).

Reproductionsback to top

J. Scott 1884.


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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