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Charles Robert Leslie

Charles Robert Leslie, by Charles Robert Leslie, 1814 -NPG 2618 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Victorian Portraits Catalogue

Charles Robert Leslie

by Charles Robert Leslie
1814
29 7/8 in. x 24 3/4 in. (759 mm x 629 mm)
NPG 2618

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated (top right): C. R. Leslie./1814

This portraitback to top

Information about the portrait is contained in the memorandum of an interview with the donor, 31 May 1933 (NPG archives). R. B. Becket rejects it as a self-portrait, arguing that its identity might easily have become confused during the portrait's journey to and from Philadelphia (letter of 25 March 1964, NPG archives): 'It shows rather a chubby young man, whereas C. R. L. is described as gaunt, and had "side-burns" extending below his ear.' It is true that at first sight the NPG portrait appears to have little resemblance to other portraits of Leslie, but it was painted at least ten years before the two early self-portraits discussed below, when Leslie was only twenty and when one would expect his features to be rounder and less clearly defined. Chin, nose, eyebrows and hair in the NPG portrait do not contradict Leslie's features in the later portraits; the apparent dissimilarity is due more to a general impression than any precise difference, and this could be accounted for by his youth. In the final analysis, it seems unlikely that family tradition would confuse the portrait of a distinguished ancestor with that of somebody else.
The best-known self-portrait of Leslie is that in the collection of A. R. L. Fletcher, exhibited SKM, 1868 (347) and Exhibition of the Works of Old Masters, RA, 1870 (24), where it is dated 1828, reproduced G. D. Leslie, The Inner Life of the Royal Academy (1914), facing p 14, where it is dated 1820, and John Constable's Correspondence, III (1965), frontispiece; it was engraved by W. Holl, published J. Murray, as the frontispiece to Autobiographical Recollections ... by C. R. Leslie, edited Tom Taylor (1860). 1828 seems a more likely date than 1820. The other self-portrait is in a private collection, exhibited Washington Irving and his Circle, Knoedler's, New York, 1947, reproduced Connoisseur, CXIX (1947), 114. This is possibly a little later in date than the Fletcher portrait.

Referenceback to top

Becket (ed.) 1965
John Constable's Correspondence, III, edited R. B. Becket (Suffolk Records Society, VIII, 1965), 153.

Physical descriptionback to top

Healthy complexion, brown eyes, and brown hair. Dressed in a white stock, a white shirt, and a loose brown overgarment with fur neck and cuffs. The back of a chair is just visible on which Leslie is sitting. Background colour brown.

Provenanceback to top

Painted for the artist's mother, and sent to her in Philadelphia; inherited by the sitter's grandson, Sir Bradford Leslie, 1909, and presented by him, 1933.

Exhibitionsback to top

British Self-Portraits, Arts Council, 1962 (77).


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.

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