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King George II

King George II, by Thomas Worlidge, circa 1753 -NPG 256 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

King George II

by or after Thomas Worlidge
circa 1753
49 1/2 in. x 39 1/4 in. (1257 mm x 997 mm)
NPG 256

This portraitback to top

The type, with some differences in dress, was etched by the artist, half length, signed and dated 1753 (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-25, 48). The handling of NPG 256, however, lacks the comparative crispness of the artist's few known portraits likely to have been painted from life, as for example William King, [1] at Oriel College, Oxford. The portrait is probably not ad vivum but not necessarily a copy. There is no evidence that Worlidge was given sittings and the likelihood is that he was not. No other life size oil by him is known. A small and slightly different version on copper, a medium he is now known to have used, is in the Foundling Hospital, [2] source and date of acquisition unknown. It is lighter in colour than NPG 256 and approximately of the same design and size as Houston's mezzotint from which it may well derive.

Footnotesback to top

1) R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, 1912-25, II, p 88 (27).
2) B. Nicolson, The Treasures of the Foundling Hospital, p 82.

Physical descriptionback to top

Profile; receding forehead, bulging grey eye, pointed curving nose, compressed lips, full grey wig covering his left ear and resting on his shoulder; red-brown coat, open, and nearly matching waistcoat trimmed with gold brocade, white lace cravat and wrist ruffles, Garter star; in his right hand, a small rolled paper, his left hand touches the hilt of a dress sword; dark green curtain looped up, top left, over a plain brown background; lit from top right.

Conservationback to top

Worn; discoloured and perished varnish; possible pentimenti or later alterations in the right arm and in the coat jacket; surface cleaned and revarnished, 1892 and 1939.

Provenanceback to top

Bought, 1868, from J. N. Breun of Greek Street, Soho.

Reproductionsback to top

Engraved by the artist, 1753; also by R. Houston (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83, 39) lettered From an Original Painting in the Possession of Thos. Jefferys, presumably Thomas Jefferys of St Martin's Lane (d. 1771), map engraver to George III.

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 King George II


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