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Charles Macklin

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Charles Macklin

by John Opie
circa 1792
35 3/4 in. x 27 3/4 in. (908 mm x 705 mm)
NPG 1319

This portraitback to top

Although poor quality precludes definite attribution, NPG 1319 is possibly a damaged original by John Opie. The portrait is said to have been painted for 'a clergyman named Clarke', [1] presumably the Rev. Edward Daniel Clarke, mineralogist, traveller and antiquary (1769-1822) to whom Macklin remarked he ought to have been paid for lending his features. [2] A similar head by Opie, with Charles Mathews by 1824 [3] and exhibited by him, 1833, [4] was presented to the Garrick Club (16) with the rest of the Mathews collection, 1835.
The sitter's birth date has long been a subject of contention but from the inscription 97 years on his coffin plate, it is now generally accepted as c.1699. [5]

Footnotesback to top

1) A. Earland, John Opie and His Circle, 1911, pp 53-54.
2) A. Earland, John Opie and His Circle, 1911, pp 53-54.
3) [L. G. Patmore], British Galleries of Art, 1824, pp 271-72; C. K. Adams, A Catalogue of the Pictures in the Garrick Club, 1936, p 6.
4) Catalogue Raisonnee of Mr. Mathew's Gallery of Historical Portraits, 1833, p 8.
5) C. K. Adams, A Catalogue of the Pictures in the Garrick Club, 1936, p 234.

Physical descriptionback to top

Dark grey eyes, thick eyebrows, lips slightly parted, the lower protruding, short white wig with single row of curls, aged appearance; white cravat, dark grey coat; in his left hand a blank paper, at his elbow a table with green cloth, inkpot and quill; plain brown background; lit from right.

Conservationback to top

Bituminous in the darks; much repainted; cleaned, repaired and varnished, 1902.

Provenanceback to top

Bought, 1902, from James McCulloch, source unknown; equated by Earland with the portrait sold for 'a gentleman named Clarke', Christie's, March 1856, bought by Mr Hermann for John Green of Covent Garden; sold as 'at 107 years of age', Green's sale, Christie's, 22 July 1871, lot 97. [1]

1) A. Earland, John Opie and His Circle, 1911, p 292; Christie's sale catalogue.

Exhibitionsback to top

'John Opie', Plymouth, 1957 (52); 'John Opie', 1962-63 (49); 'The History of the Theatre in Exeter', University of Exeter, 1967.

Reproductionsback to top

The type engraved in his 93rd Year by Jean Condé, frontispiece to Bell's edition of the sitter's works, 1792.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, 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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