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Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis

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- subject matching 'Regency Empire Portraits'

Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis, by John Smart, 1792 -NPG 4316 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Charles Cornwallis, 1st Marquess Cornwallis

by John Smart
1792
7 1/4 in. x 6 5/8 in. (184 mm x 168 mm)
NPG 4316

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed in a contemporary hand below: The Right Honorable/Charles Earl Cornwallis Knight of the most Noble/order of the Garter/Governor General and Commander in Chief/in India//John Smart delineavit/Madras 1792.1

1 The spacing is less than perfect; was Smart anticipating Cornwallis’s elevation as Marquess which was announced in London on 8 October 1792 (and presumably not known in India before February 1793)?

This portraitback to top

The branch of laurel on the painted roundel must refer to Cornwallis’s victory over Tipu Sultan in the Third Mysore War which ended in March 1792; Tipu’s Palace at Seringapatam appears in the background. [1] Smart was in India from September 1785 to April 1795, living mainly in Madras, and NPG 4316 is one of several portraits he drew of Cornwallis. In order of date these are:
a) 1787 Christie’s, 15 May 1903, lot 28 (signed and dated, wearing the Garter insignia).
b) 1791 with C. H. Moore 1942 (photograph NPG archive).
c) 1792 E. M. Hodgkins 1904 (illus. G. C. Williamson, The History of Portrait Miniatures, 1904, II, pl.lXX, no.9).
d) 1792 Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (3922; illus. R. Bayne Powell, Catalogue of Portrait miniatures in the Fitzwilliam Musuem, Cambridge, 1985, p 202, and G. Reynolds, Cambridge Miniatures, 1998, p 103.).
e) 1792 location unknown (illus. M. Archer, The India Office Collection of Paintings and Sculpture, 1979, p 392).
f) 1792 NPG 4316.
g) 1792 exhibited RA 1879 (case P 23) and Royal House of Guelph, New Gallery, London, 1891 (974), on each occasion lent J. Whitehead.
h) 1794 E. B. H. Travers, sold Sotheby’s, 27 November 1972, lot 169.
Of these a) and g) are now untraced; the heads of b), d), e), f) and h) appear identical, and c) shows a similar head reversed. Smart sent a miniature of Cornwallis for exhibition at the RA 1793 (180), and an undated miniature on a gold locket was sold Christie’s, 8 July 1914, lot 120. [2] A miniature copy from Smart by Samuel Andrews, who was in India c.1791-1807 and in 1794 moved into a house in Madras once occupied by Smart, [3] was sold Bonham’s, 12 June 1995, lot 170. [4]

Footnotesback to top

1) Cf. the contemporary views of Seringapatam illus. The Tiger and the Thistle, National Gallery of Scotland, 1999, pp 45, 46, 65.
2) Another, said to have been dated 1793, was exhibited at 158b New Bond Street in 1911 with a pendant of Lady Cornwallis also dated 1793 - but she had died in 1779.
3) See M. Archer, The India Office Collection of Paintings and Sculpture, 1979, p 396; her account mentions an unlocated miniature by him of Cornwallis.
4) Another miniature, probably 20th century, resembling the Smart pattern, inscribed ‘Found in Charles Thackery’s book, May 1794’, sold Bonham’s, 24 November 1999, lot 246.

Referenceback to top

Walker 1998
R. J. B. Walker, A Catalogue of paintings, drawings, engravings and sculpture in The Palace of Westminster compiled during 1959-77, 4 vols., 1988, [type-script in NPG archive], no.69.

Provenanceback to top

Sir Bruce Ingram (d. 1963); Colnaghi, from whom purchased 1963.

Exhibitionsback to top

Master Drawings from the National Portrait Gallery, Tulsa, Miami, Washington, Ottawa, NPG, Manchester, Carlisle, Canterbury, 1993-95 (28).


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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