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John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham

1 of 60 portraits of John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham

John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham, by Thomas Phillips, 1820, based on a work of 1819 -NPG 2547 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

John George Lambton, 1st Earl of Durham

replica by Thomas Phillips
1820, based on a work of 1819
36 in. x 28 in. (914 mm x 711 mm)
NPG 2547

This portraitback to top

This is a replica of the portrait at Howick (signed and dated 1819), listed in the artist's 'Sitters Book' under 1819, which was originally owned by the 2nd Earl Grey. In a letter of 2 February 1819, Durham wrote to Grey:

'Louisa told me that you had expressed a wish for my picture. I have therefore undergone the torture of sitting to Phillips. Yesterday was my last sitting. He has asked my leave to exhibit it, but I demur until you have seen it, as does he, that you may suggest any alterations you think right. He has been told by artists that the picture does him credit, as a painter, independently of any likeness, and he is therefore interested in having your opinion and criticism in time to alter it before it goes.' [1]
The Howick portrait was duly exhibited RA, 1819 (104), and engraved by S. W. Reynolds (example in NPG). It has been suggested that the NPG portrait might be the work of Lady Grey, wife of the 3rd Earl, who copied several pictures at Howick for Lambton Castle. On stylistic grounds, however, the NPG portrait seems to be entirely the work of Phillips.

Footnotesback to top

1) S. J. Reid, Life and Letters of the 1st Earl of Durham (1906), I, 117; the Howick portrait is reproduced facing 117.

Referenceback to top

Presumably the portrait listed in Phillips' 'Sitters Book' (copy of original MS, NPG archives), under 1820, 'Mr Lambton 2nd'.

Physical descriptionback to top

Brown eyes and hair. Dressed in a white stock, white shirt, black waistcoat, and black coat, holding a brown leather-bound volume, and wearing a gold ring with a dark jewel. Curtain covering most of background plum red, yellow and grey sky visible lower right. Open book bottom left.

Provenanceback to top

By descent to the present Earl of Durham; purchased at the Lambton Castle Sale, Anderson & Garland, 18 April 1932 (lot 52).


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Ormond, Early Victorian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1973, 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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