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King George I

King George I, by John Michael Rysbrack, circa 1720-1735 -NPG 4156 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

King George I

by John Michael Rysbrack
circa 1720-1735
24 3/8 in. x 20 1/8 in. (620 mm x 510 mm) overall
NPG 4156

This portraitback to top

Rysbrack gave a list of his work to Vertue including a 'K. George 1. a Marble'. Vertue noted, 1732, 'the King did not actually set', [1] but it is not clear whether the type is posthumous or perhaps after another portrait. Rysbrack came to London in the autumn of 1720 and his reputation was such as to have justified important commissions from about 1723. A marble bust similar to NPG 4156, but with Garter star, was in the Hall at Christ Church, Oxford, by 1766, [2] and a whole length version, in marble, in the Squire Law Library, Cambridge, was ordered in 1736 and erected in 1739. [3] Another statue, erected in the Royal Exchange, was last recorded as sold, damaged, after the fire of 1838. [4] Two marble medallions by Rysbrack are now lost. [5]

Footnotesback to top

1) G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, III, p 56.
2) R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, 1912-25, III, p 50 (127).
3) M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack Sculptor, 1954, pp 161-63, 216; J. W. Goodison, Cambridge Portraits, 1955, pp 22-23, pl.viii.
4) M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack Sculptor, 1954, p 216.
5) Ibid; sale catalogue 20 April 1765, lots 16 and 17.

Physical descriptionback to top

Incised pupils, hair curled in Roman manner, crowned with laurel; lion armour, drapery clasped by a circular brooch on his right shoulder.

Conservationback to top

Numerous cracks including one down the centre of the chest; five of the laurel tips are broken and three missing. The glaze may cover a red paint which the sculptor habitually used to produce a homogeneous surface after the infilling of cracks with plaster, the cracks themselves resulting from the firing. [1] The grey glaze is unusual.

1) Rysbrack to Sir Edward Littleton, 6 May 1768; M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack Sculptor, 1954, p 200.

Provenanceback to top

Bought, 1960, from Roger Warner and by him, 1959, from the Poulett collection, Hinton St George [1] where its identity had been lost. Identified by the late Mrs M. I. Webb, it may be one of the models that remained in Rysbrack's studio, recorded in the catalogue of his sale, 24 January 1766, lot 41, or 25 January 1766, lot 33. [2]

1) Sale of furnishings, Wooley & Wallis, Salisbury.
2) M. I. Webb, Michael Rysbrack Sculptor, 1954, p 161.


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.

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