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Robert William Elliston

Robert William Elliston, by George Henry Harlow, engraved 1808 -NPG 2136 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Robert William Elliston

by George Henry Harlow
engraved 1808
30 3/4 in. x 25 1/2 in. (781 mm x 648 mm)
NPG 2136

This portraitback to top

Charles Turner's mezzotint indicates a date for this portrait of 1807-8 when Elliston was a member of the Drury Lane company. Leigh Hunt said 'the engraved portrait of him in a coat bordered with fur is very like' (Autobiography, p 131). Another version is in the Garrick Club (373) and a third in the Tasmanian Museum, Hobart, was brought to Tasmania by the actor's second son in 1830; a watercolour miniature sketch is in the Mander & Mitchenson collection (British Theatre, 1957, p 73, no.195). A slightly later pencil and sanguine drawing by Harlow, signed and dated: G H H March 20th 1814, in the Garrick Club, was engraved by Penstone as frontispiece to his Memoirs, 1843. A third Harlow type, as Lessee and Manager of Drury Lane Theatre, was engraved by R. Cooper for The Ladies' Monthly Museum, 1828. They are all characterised by a large mop of unruly fair hair and a faintly smiling expression.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length to left in dark coat with brown fur collar, white neckcloth; grey powdered hair, vivid blue eyes, good-natured expression.

Provenanceback to top

Family possession and bequeathed by the sitter's daughter, Miss Mary Anne Elliston, but permitting her nephew Robert William Elliston to enjoy it during his lifetime; it came to the Gallery in 1926.

Reproductionsback to top

Mezzotint by Charles Turner published 9 July 1808 and re-issued 1 January 1820 by Hurst & Robinson (Alfred Whitman, Charles Turner, 1907, 179).


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.

View all known portraits for Robert William Elliston

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