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Edward Wortley Montagu

2 of 5 portraits of Edward Wortley Montagu

Edward Wortley Montagu, by Matthew William Peters, 1775 -NPG 4573 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Edward Wortley Montagu

by Matthew William Peters
1775
45 3/4 in. x 33 7/8 in. (1162 mm x 862 mm)
NPG 4573

Inscriptionback to top

Signed, centre right: Peters. Px.

This portraitback to top

Wortley Montagu lived in Venice from July 1773 until his death in April 1776. When the Duke of Hamilton visited him there he found him ‘wonderfully prejudiced in favour of the Turkish character and manners, which he thinks infinitely preferable to the European, or those of any other nation’; Nichols described him ‘living in Venice with the manners, the habit, and the magnificence of a Turk’. [1] Peters had been in Venice for a year from March 1772 and intended to leave Rome for Parma in April 1775; NPG 4573 suggests he may have returned to Venice before returning to England in 1776. Romney, who was in Venice in March-April 1775, also painted Montagu there.
A small sketch resembling NPG 4573 was with the Marquess of Bute in 1913. [2]

Footnotesback to top

1) J. Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, IV, pp 650, 652.
2) Lady Victoria Manners, Peters, 1913, pp 9, 55 (differing ‘in some respects’ from Smith’s mezzotint); exhibited Graves' Galleries, London, 1910 (15).

Physical descriptionback to top

Blue eyes, thin grey beard, wearing a turban with red, dark green and gold decoration, a black gown and a richly figured gold scarf; a gold-handled dagger hangs from his red belt by a gold cord; a Turkey rug over the table to the left.

Provenanceback to top

William, 2nd Viscount Courtenay 1776; 3rd Viscount Courtenay sale, Christie’s, 27 April 1816, lot 78 (Peters, Portrait of Wortley Montagu, In his Asiatick Dress, painted with the rich and golden effect of Rembrandt’s colouring; a very surprising effect of this painter), bought by the 2nd Marquess of Stafford (Duke of Sutherland 1803);1 by descent to Elizabeth, Countess of Sutherland (niece of the 5th Duke of Sutherland), and sold Christie’s, 7 July 1967, lot 91 (as The Turk),2 bought Leggatt for the NPG.

1 Listed in the drawing room of Trentham Hall in 1820 (J. P. Neale, Seats, III, 1820, n.p.).
2 When said to have come from the collection of Mrs W. Carpenter - which Christie’s can no longer explain; it evidently didn’t.

Exhibitionsback to top

RA 1776 (222, 'in his dress as an Arabian Prince'); British Institution 1817 (90) lent by the Marquis of Stafford; Van Dyck in Check Trousers, Edinburgh, 1978 (10); Visions of the Ottoman Empire, Edinburgh, 1994.

Reproductionsback to top

J. R. Smith 1776 (the second state lettered: ... From the original Painting, In the collection of the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Courtenay. Published Augt. 15th, 1776 ...);1 G. Murray 1820.

1 Listed in the drawing room of Trentham Hall in 1820 (J. P. Neale, Seats, III, 1820, n.p.).


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, 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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