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King George IV

King George IV, by Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey, 1826 -NPG 316a(57) - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

King George IV

by Sir Francis Leggatt Chantrey
11 3/8 in. x 15 1/4 in. (289 mm x 388 mm)
NPG 316a(57)

Inscriptionback to top

Recto inscribed: No.2 Ornament on George the 4th Robe, 31st Augst 1826 – JC; verso inscribed: No.3 Ornament on George the 4th Robe.

This portraitback to top

Sir Francis Chantrey’s Ledgers of Accounts (RA) record in October 1821 an 'order from the Duke of Devonshire for a Bust of His Majesty George the Fourth', its execution in 1822 and payment of £210 on 16 February 1826. The bust is at Chatsworth and was exhibited RA 1822 (988); a plaster model is in the Ashmolean Museum (565-53). The Chatsworth bust is the first in the Ledgers of Accounts and was probably the outcome of the drawings. Other busts recorded in the Ledgers are as follows:

2 ‘from his Majesty to execute his Bust for Carlton Palace' - price fixed at 200 guineas, 1821; executed in 1822 and paid for by Sir William Knighton 1 February 1835. The bust is missing. CL 143.
3 Royal College of Surgeons 1821. The bust is in the Royal College of Surgeons, signed and dated 1823. CL 144.
4 Earl St Vincent 1822, executed 1822. CL 148.
5 Senate of the Ionian Islands January 1822, executed 1824. CL 149.
6 Jesse Watts Russell 1823, executed July 1825 and sold Sotheby's 9 December 1976 (227). CL 152.
7 HM the King (through Sir Charles Long) 1823. CL 157.
8 Goldsmiths of London 1823, executed January 1824. CL 158.
9 Mr Angerstein January 1822, executed 1825. CL 161.
10 Duke of York, executed 1827. CL 162.
11 Rt Hon Frederick Robinson, Chancellor of the Exchequer 1826, executed 1827. CL 183.
12 Christ Church, Oxford, 1826, executed July 1828. CL 185.
13 Grand Lodge of the Society of Freemasons September 1827, executed August 1827. CL 191.
14 The King's Fourteenth Bust not executed.
15 HM the King for Windsor Castle 1828, executed March 1829, still at Windsor signed and dated 1828. CL 210.
16 HM William IV for his Temple in the Garden at Kew 1836, now in Buckingham Palace signed and dated 1837. CL 277.
17 HM the King of Hanover 1837, executed 1839 (Herrenhausen). CL 286.
18 Royal Academy 1839, 'to be presented by Sir Francis Chantrey' (Burlington House, signed and dated 1841, presented by Lady Chantrey). CL 296.

A studio version is in the Royal College of Physicians and another was offered to the NPG in 1951. A medal by Bain from Chantrey's bust commemorated the King's visit to Edinburgh in 1822 and was exhibited RA 1828 (494). W. Wyon used the profile for pennies, halfpennies and farthings 1826-30. A miniature by Andrew Robertson in the Royal Collection (Windsor Castle), signed and dated 1831, shows Chantrey in a grey coat and black waistcoat at work on the bust.
The ornamentation drawings (316a 56-7) were for the statue in Garter Robes ordered for Brighton March 1822 for 3000 guineas and executed October 1828, the first instalment paid 14 December 1826 (CL 146); a copy is at Windsor Castle. Other statues by Chantrey are at Windsor (1830), Trafalgar Square (1829, originally for Marble Arch), and Edinburgh (1831). A bronze statuette was lent by Sir Francis Watson to the 'Kings and Queens' exhibition RA 1953 (256).

Chantrey's technique and working practices have been clearly described and analysed by Professor Potts in the introduction to Sir Francis Chantrey 1781-1841 Sculptor of the Great, NPG exhibition catalogue, 1981. The sittings began with drawings, profile and full-face, made with a device which traced the outlines of the head on to a sheet of paper. It was called by Chantrey himself a 'camera lucida' and was adapted from a special instrument patented by his friend William Hyde Wollaston who described it in detail:

Having a short time since amused myself with attempts to sketch various interesting views, without an adequate knowledge of the art of drawing, my mind was naturally employed in facilitating the means of transferring to paper the apparent relative positions of the objects before me; and I am in hopes that the instrument, which I contrived for this purpose, may be acceptable even to those who have attained to greater proficiency in the art, on account of the many advantages it possesses over the Camera Obscura.
(W. H. Wollaston in Nicholson's Journal, XVII, June 1807, pp 1-5 and plate 1)

Although Chantrey's device was known as a camera lucida, judging from Wollaston's illustration and Sir Henry Russell's description quoted below it was a variation from the accepted form and certainly does not tally with examples of the instrument in the Science Museum. However for the sake of convenience Chantrey's name for it has been used throughout this Catalogue.
The drawings finished, clay models were made by studio assistants and completed by Chantrey himself, usually at several informal sessions beginning with breakfast and accompanied by friends to ensure that conversation would keep the sitter animated. The clay was then transferred to plaster casts (many of which were presented to the Ashmolean Museum by Lady Chantrey in 1842) and finally to the marble bust.
The actual process, in 1822, was described vividly by one of the sitters, Sir Henry Russell (see NPG 316a(102-3)):

On the day we were to begin he appointed me to breakfast with him ... The first day, he only made a rough sketch of the face, using an instrument with a tube, through which he looked, while, with a pencil fixed on one arm of it, he traced an outline of the full size on paper ... In the construction of this instrument, Sir Francis told me he had himself made considerable improvements.
(George Jones, Sir Francis Chantrey RA: Recollections of his Life, Practice and Opinions, 1859, pp 275, 292.)

The process was also described by John Dalton in 1834 (see NPG 316a(27-30)) and by James Dunlop in 1836, recounted by C. R. Leslie:

Mr Dunlop had been sitting to Chantrey, who fixed the back of his head in a wooden machine to keep him perfectly still, and then drew with a camera lucida the profile and front face of the size of life. He afterwards gave a little light and shade to the drawings, and said, "I shall not require you to sit still after this."
(C. R. Leslie, Autobiographical Recollections, 1860, p 152.)

Among the conversationalists Chantrey employed to keep his sitters animated was George Jones, librarian and keeper of the RA and one of Chantrey's intimate friends and his executor. Jones's widow gave the collection of camera lucida drawings to the NPG, offering them in a letter of July 1870:

I was desired by my late husband George Jones RA to offer for the acceptance of the Trustees of the National Portrait Gallery - various drawings, taken with the assistance of the Camera Lucida, by the late Francis Chantrey RA - of celebrated persons & some members of the Royal Family. May I ask you to have the kindness to make this offer known in the proper quarter ... Gertrude Jones.
(MS letter in NPG archive).

The offer was accepted by the Trustees in February 1871. The collection consists of 202 drawings, on Whatman paper usually about 47 x 62 cm (18 ½ x 24 ½ in), some with simple outlines marked with guide crosses and lines, others worked up into finished portrait studies. Most are annotated with the sitters' names but about 40 have not been identified.

Referenceback to top

Holland 1851
J. Holland, Memorials of Sir Francis Chantrey, 1851, reviewed in The Athenaeum, 1851, p 1039.

Jones 1859
George Jones, Sir Francis Chantrey RA: Recollections of his Life, Practice and Opinions, 1859, copy annotated and presented by the author in the NPG library.

Potts 1981
Alex Potts, Sir Francis Chantrey 1781-1841 Sculptor of the Great, catalogue of NPG exhibition 1981.

Sir Francis Chantrey’s Ledgers of Accounts 1809-23, British Library (MS. Eg. 1911).

Sir Francis Chantrey’s Ledgers of Accounts 1809-41, Royal Academy Library, to be published in a forthcoming Walpole Society volume.

Provenanceback to top

Sir Francis Chantrey; his executor George Jones RA and given by his widow, Gertrude Jones, 1871.

Reproductionsback to top

Stipple engraving by S. W. Reynolds of the bust in profile to right, published 1823 as 'Plate 1st of a series of engravings from the Works of Fs Chantrey Esqre R.A.'; another stipple of the bust in full-face was published in 1825.

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.

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