The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

John Philip Kemble

John Philip Kemble, by Gilbert Stuart, circa 1785 -NPG 49 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

John Philip Kemble

by Gilbert Stuart
circa 1785
29 1/2 in. x 24 1/2 in. (749 mm x 622 mm)
NPG 49

This portraitback to top

Park (Lawrence Park, J. H. Morgan and R. Cortissoz, Gilbert Stuart, an illustrated descriptive list of his works, an account of his life and an appreciation, 1926, p 450) dates this portrait c.1785 when Stuart was painting in London and Kemble would have been 28, though he looks older. Delane in a letter to the NPG dates it c.1795 which would accord more with his apparent age and the date of Ridley's engraving, March 1797, but Stuart had sailed for America in 1787 and there is no record of Kemble leaving England at this time. 1785-7 is a probable date. The portrait was romanticised later into 'Richard III'.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length to right in a painted oval, dark blue coat with brass buttons, yellow waistcoat, white shirt-frill; grey powdered wig in queue, brown eyes, bright complexion; plain drab background.

Provenanceback to top

Kemble's brother-in-law Francis Twiss; his son Horace Twiss MP; bequeathed by his widow to her nephew John Thadeus Delane (Editor of The Times) and given by him 1858.

Reproductionsback to top

Small stipple in reverse by Ridley 'from a Picture by Stuart in the possession of Mr Twiss', published for The Monthly Mirror, 1 March 1797; mezzotint by E. Pinkerton; stipple in reverse in Smeeton's The Unique, 1824.

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.

View all known portraits for John Philip Kemble

Get Creative

Develop your art skills

Discover our BP Next Generation short films made by artists. Follow step by step guides in drawing and painting techniques.

Improve your skills

Hold Still

Hold Still photography workshop

Reflect on your own experiences of lockdown through this easy-to-do from home, photographic exercise. 

Watch the video

Draw Like a Renaissance Master

Revisit The Encounter exhibition and learn about Renaissance and Baroque drawing methods and materials.

Improve your technique