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Kitty Fisher

Kitty Fisher, by Nathaniel Hone, 1765 -NPG 2354 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Kitty Fisher

by Nathaniel Hone
29 1/2 in. x 24 1/2 in. (749 mm x 622 mm)
NPG 2354

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated in yellow script: N Hone pt./1765.
The remains of two labels on the top and centre bars of the stretcher read: 8th December 1913, and [P]ortrait of Kitt.../...Hone; another removed from the back of the canvas, in Dr Cock's hand (c.1913? see provenance): Kitty Fisher painted/by Nathaniel Hone 1765./She married Mr Norris M P/of Hemsted Park, Benenden/Kent. died four months/afterwards of small pox at/Bath. Buried in her best dress/in the family vault in Benenden/Church 1767. F. William Cock m.d.

This portraitback to top

No other version of NPG 2354 is known. It may well be the portrait exhibited by the artist in 1765: 'This is a portrait of a Lady, whose charms are well known to the town. The Painter has ingeniously attempted to acquaint us with her name by a rebus upon Canvass. By her side a Kitten (Kitty) is attempting to get into a basin of Gold Fish (Kitty Fisher) - what a pity it is he did not make the Rebus complete and according to Subtle in the "Alchemist", place on the other side a Dog snarling - er - Kitty Fish - er!' [1]

Footnotesback to top

1) The Public Advertiser, 10 May 1765, cited in Notes & Queries, CXLVIII, 21 March 1925, p 204, by Horace Blackley. I am grateful to Miss Wimbush who suggests that the reference to The Alchemist occurs in Act II, Scene VI, in which Subtle completes a sign for ‘Able Drugger' with a dog to symbolize 'er'.

Physical descriptionback to top

Dark blue eyes, dark brown hair dressed high and parted in the centre, loose curls falling to her right shoulder, rather pale complexion, the cheeks perhaps lightly rouged; oyster-grey low cut dress, embroidered fichu held in her left hand partly covers the pendant of her coral necklace, rows of pearls on her left wrist; pale mauve drapery behind her head and, right foreground, a black cat fishing in a bowl of goldfish, plain blue background behind; lit from the left.

Conservationback to top

Good; cleaned and varnished, 1970.

Provenanceback to top

Received, 1929, by bequest, with a portrait of Lady Elizabeth Foster (NPG 2355) from Lord Revelstoke; the portrait, according to a letter dated 11 July 1929 from Dr F. W. Cock of Ashford, Kent, was believed to have been acquired by purchase from the collection of Captain Robertson-Aikman [1] 'in the early part of the nineteenth century'; at his death it was bought by his son who bequeathed it to his sister who, in turn, left it to her physician Dr Cock; brought, 1913, by Dr Cock to the Gallery for identification; bought from him by Lord Revelstoke.

1) Presumably Captain Hugh Robertson-Aikman (1819-82), descendant of Aikman, the painter, Burke, Landed Gentry, 1906, pp 9-10.

Exhibitionsback to top

Probably Society of Artists, 1765 (54), where a portrait of a lady by Hone was identified by Walpole as Kitty Fisher with a cat and goldfish; [1] also ‘Allan Ramsay: His Masters and Rivals', National Gallery of Scotland, 1963 (86).

1) 'Notes by Horace Walpole ... on the Exhibitions of The Society of Artists and the Free Society of Artists, 1760-1791...', edited H. Gatty, Walpole Society, XXVII, 1939, p 68.

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, 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 Catherine Maria ('Kitty') Fisher

View all known portraits for Nathaniel Hone


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