Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey
- Extended catalogue entry
Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue
Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey
by Benjamin Robert Haydon
20 7/8 in. x 16 5/8 in. (530 mm x 422 mm)
Inscriptionback to top
Inscribed in pencil (bottom centre): Lord Grey (House of Lords) and (bottom right): Jan 11 - 1834
This portraitback to top
This drawing is a study for Haydon's picture of 'The Reform Banquet, 1832', commissioned by Earl Grey for 500 guineas, and now in the collection of his descendant, Lady Mary Howick; it was etched by F. Bromley, published S. C. Bromley, 1835 (example in NPG). Haydon attended the Reform Banquet on it July 1832 in a delirium of excitement, and commenced his picture soon afterwards. He received a number of sittings from Grey, writing, for example, on 11 January 1834 (the date of the NPG drawing) (Diary, IV, 149):
'Lord Grey sat, very pleasantly indeed, and I made in my own opinion and that of Lord Lansdowne, a successful drawing. Sir W. Gordon came in, and suggested one or two things of great use. He said Lord Grey's basis of character was excessive amiability, and it was this which attached others to him. He wished me to soften one or two things, "for instance, the brow", said he; "if a man was dressed it would not be up". Lord Grey smoothed it down. Sir Willoughby little thought what a principle of Art was here concealed! - dressed! Nature dressed!'
Haydon found it difficult to reconcile the expectations of Grey and his family with his own desire for truth. Of a sketch made in his diary on 8 April 1833, he wrote (Diary, IV, 71, sketch reproduced 72): 'This is really like now, but the family would not be pleased.' He also had difficulties in selecting a pose for Grey, showing him first in profile, then more three-quarter face, as in the NPG drawing, and finally almost full face. Three similar studies are in the Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle; a drawing of a different type was formerly in the collection of M. Buxton Forman; and several others are in the collection of Earl Spencer, who owns two albums of studies for the group.
On 12 January 1834, Haydon wrote in his diary (Diary, IV, 152): 'As soon as I have satisfied them with the likeness in the Picture [i.e. the group], I will paint a Portrait of him for myself'. Haydon records a painting executed in September 1833, apparently that showing Grey in his study now in the Laing Art Gallery the latter was engraved by G. R. Ward, with the title, 'Shall I Resign?', published F. G. Moon, 1836 (example in NPG). Another portrait by Haydon, showing Grey against a landscape, but in a similar pose to that in 'The Reform Banquet', was engraved by H. Cook, published J. Dowding, 1840 (example in NPG), for 'Political Reformers'; this may have been entirely derived from the group by the engraver, and not from another independent painting by Haydon.
Referenceback to top
Pope (ed.) 1963
Diary of Benjamin Robert Haydon, edited W. B. Pope (Harvard University Press, 1963), IV, 149-51.
Provenanceback to top
Presented by A. T. Playfair, 1951.
This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Ormond, Early Victorian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1973, 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.