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Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover

1 of 63 portraits of Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland and King of Hanover

by George Dawe
circa 1828
37 in. x 30 in. (940 mm x 762 mm)
NPG 3309

Inscriptionback to top

A faint inscription on back of canvas: 5 up 6 (upside-down and doubtful), 82 several times on stretcher and a torn label: GEORGE DAWE A.R.A. 1810. D. in London 1829 … Duke of Cumberland … 1812 … Engraved … H.3ft ...

This portraitback to top

The portrait shows Cumberland resplendent in the scarlet and gold uniform of the Hussars (he was Colonel of the 15th Light Dragoons (Hussars 1806) from 1801, to 1827), his waxed moustaches bristling but alas turning grey, his one eye flashing with martial spirit, the other eye, lost at the Battle of Tournay, lustreless and askew. He confronts the spectator but there are no signs of the hideous wounds inflicted on the left side of his face at Tournay and on his head during the assassination attempt in 1810 though the neck is certainly swathed in the high black neckcloth he is known to have worn to support the head.
Dawe is said to have painted the Duke in Berlin in 1828 (Dictionary of National Biography, V, 660), a date which would certainly fit the apparent age of the sitter, about 60, though one would expect him to be wearing the Order of St Patrick awarded in 1821; but then he does not wear the GCH 1815 either. Dawe's Berlin portrait is without doubt that now in the collection of the Duke's direct descendant, HRH Prince Ernst August of Hanover, in the Marienburg. Dawe's brother, Henry Edward, exhibited his mezzotint of the portrait at the SBA in 1832.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length aged about 60, in uniform of general officer of Hussars of which he was appointed Colonel in 1801 and General 1808, holding a brown fur busby with scarlet bag, white plume and gold tassels, pelisse over his left shoulder with Stars of the Garter and Bath and 5 military medals; Ribbon of the Garter and at his neck the Badges of the Bath and Prussian Red Eagle on a white ribbon with gold edges. Blue eyes (his left apparently blind), sparse grey hair, luxuriant sideburns and curly waxed grey moustaches; florid complexion, fierce war-like expression, a noticeably round head; pale bluish-grey sky background.

Provenanceback to top

Bought by the NPG from R. E. A. Wilson in 1946.

Reproductionsback to top

Mezzotint by H. E. Dawe, published by W. Sams and exhibited SBA 1832 (931), example in British Museum.

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.