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William George Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire

18 of 55 portraits by Edwin Landseer

Regency Portraits Catalogue

William George Spencer Cavendish, 6th Duke of Devonshire

by Edwin Landseer
circa 1832
8 7/8 in. x 7 3/8 in. (226 mm x 188 mm)
NPG 4916

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed: Box 4. Opera/D of Devonshire (with Sir E Lr on original mount).

This portraitback to top

This drawing may be the basis for and certainly parodies a more sober oil by Landseer at Chatsworth, exhibited RA 1832 (132) and Landseer Exhibition RA 1961 (86) showing Devonshire at the theatre with a copy of The Hunchback by Sheridan Knowles published in 1832 at Covent Garden. Another Landseer drawing of Devonshire talking to Sir Geoffrey Wyatville, is in the British Museum Red Redleaf Scrapbook, p 18.

The 9 satirical drawings [NPG 4914-22] came from an album of 93 drawings, mostly by Landseer, others by Wilkie and D'Orsay, consisting of caricatures, figure and animal studies. The majority are in pen and brown ink, some with brown wash, a few with additions in red chalk, watercolour or sealing wax. The collection was probably formed by Charles Bennet, 6th Earl of Tankerville who as Lord Ossulston was MP for North Northumberland 1832-59 and very much a man about town. Landseer's first meeting with Ossulston is described dramatically in Reminiscences of Life in the Highlands, Landseer being caught red-handed poaching a stag in Glen Feshie forest.
They became firm friends and the 'Hunting of Chevy Chase' (Birmingham Art Gallery) was conceived on a visit to Chillingham in 1825. The first drawing in the album was Landseer and a servant leaving Chillingham Castle 27 September 1835; the earliest dated drawing was 1832, the latest, an illustrated letter from Landseer to Ossulston, 10 October 1852. The album was probably put together at Chillingham Castle by Lady Ida Tankerville, Lord Ossulston's daughter (b. 1857) who married the 13th Earl of Dalhousie in 1877, and was in the family possession until its sale at Christie's in 1972.

Physical descriptionback to top

Three-quarter-length seated to left in black tail-coat holding opera glass in gloved hands.

Provenanceback to top

Chillingham Castle (Earl of Tankerville), Lady Ida Tankerville and to her grandson David Patrick Ramsay, Christie's 11 July 1972 (23) bought Agnew and sold to the NPG.


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.

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