1 of 11 portraits of James Henry Leigh Hunt
- Extended catalogue entry
Regency Portraits Catalogue
by Benjamin Robert Haydon
24 in. x 19 3/4 in. (610 mm x 502 mm)
This portraitback to top
Haydon's sombre portrait reflects his verbal description of Leigh Hunt, '… with his black bushy hair, black eyes, pale face and "nose of taste", as fine a specimen of a London editor as could be imagined' (Autobiography, I, p 122). The portrait was probably painted early on in their stormy relationship, their first meeting being in June 1811 (Haydon's Diary, 6 June 1811). Leigh Hunt's sonnet, 'Haydon, whom now the conquered toil confesses', was written on the fly-leaf of Haydon's copy of Vasari's Lives in September 1816; when the idea of a sonnet was proposed Haydon agreed and added '- a bargain - do not forget that your Portrait is the only one I have painted or probably ever will' (Edmund Blunden, Leigh Hunt, 1930, p 100). Another portrait believed to be Hunt in theatrical costume and attributed to Haydon is reproduced in Edmund Blunden, Leigh Hunt, 1930, p 54.
Physical descriptionback to top
Head and shoulders to left in a dark red boldly patterned coat and broad white collar; brown eyes, thick dark brown hair, black eyebrows, pale face, thick protruding lower lip; plain drab background.
Provenanceback to top
Painted for Hunt's brother John and inherited by his grandson Leigh Hunt who sold it to the NPG in 1869 (letter in NPG archive).
Exhibitionsback to top
'Byron', V&A Museum, 1974 (O3).
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.