Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales

by Philip Mercier
circa 1735-1736
48 3/4 in. x 39 1/2 in. (1238 mm x 1003 mm)
NPG 2501

Inscriptionback to top

Signed in brown, faintly, on the base of the column in cursive, Ph. Mercier fecit.

This portraitback to top

An undated portrait of which no other versions are known. The Prince appointed Mercier painter, page of the bedchamber and librarian in 1728, having apparently last paid him as librarian in the year ending 1738. [1] The position as painter was discontinued by warrant dated 7 October 1736 when John Ellys became 'principal painter in the room of Philip Mercier Esq'. [2] The costume suggests the mid- or late 'thirties. A whole length by Mercier painted in 1728 was given by the Queen to Earl Grantham the following year. [3] It was one of a set with the Princesses Anne, Amelia and Caroline, the last signed and dated 1728, all presented in 1768 to the Shire Hall, Hertford, from the collection of the 3rd Earl Cowper at Panshanger. Although the head is in the same pose as NPG 2501, the face is much younger and thinner, close to the half length portrait of 1730 engraved by J. Simon (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83, 65-66). An example is in the possession of Lord Brownlow and a copy, in the Royal Collection (O. Millar, 'Notes on the Royal Collection - I’, Burlington Magazine, CIII, 1961, 525). It is unlikely that NPG 2501 would have been painted without a sitting.

Footnotesback to top

1) O. Millar, 'Notes on the Royal Collection - I’, Burlington Magazine, CIII, 1961, p 74.
2) Cited 'Mercier', Kenwood, 1969, p 11 and note 6.
3) Information J. Ingamells.

Physical descriptionback to top

Greyish-blue prominent eyes, heavy lids, elongated near-white eyebrows, full crimson lips, a pimple low on his left cheek, short grey wig; white shirt with lace frill and cuffs, scarlet coat with gold brocade, Garter ribbon and star; in his right hand a gold-headed cane, golden sword at his side; under his left arm, black hat edged with white fur; blue sky with red low on the horizon, pale green foliage, left; lit from top left.

Conservationback to top

Pentimenti along the top of his right arm and also, still visible in its earlier position, on his right hand which has been extended outwards by the width of his stick; fading or discolouration in the reds of the coat, especially in his right cuff; minor losses, bottom right; pin holes; the relining canvas is now rather dry; cleaned 1970.

Provenanceback to top

Received, 1931, by bequest from Miss Lillie B. Randell, 1925, together with portraits of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (NPG 2506), Duke of Newcastle (NPG 2504), George III (NPG 2502), George IV (NPG 2503), the last three discussed in subsequent volumes, and Lady Stapylton (NPG 2505); from the collection of the sitter's great-grandson the Duke of Cambridge; Christie's, 11 June 1904, lot 44, without artist's name.

Exhibitionsback to top

'Philip Mercier', Kenwood, 1969 (29).


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 Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales