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Arthur Murphy

Arthur Murphy, by Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt), 1777 -NPG 10 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Arthur Murphy

by Nathaniel Dance (later Sir Nathaniel Holland, Bt)
1777
50 in. x 40 in. (1270 mm x 1016 mm)
NPG 10

This portraitback to top

Despite the engraver Ridley’s assertion that NPG 10 was painted in 1786 (four years after Dance had retired from professional practice), it is generally dated 1777, as stated by Condé. William Ward’s mezzotint of 1805 agrees exactly with NPG 10 and gives the owner as ‘Miss Thrales’, but it is unlikely that it was originally painted for one of the Thrale daughters (the eldest of whom was thirteen in 1777). If NPG 10 was painted for Mrs Piozzi (for whom Murphy was ‘a mighty pleasing Man’), it may have reached Streatham before the Reynolds portrait.
A copy is in the Yale University Art Gallery (1930.108). A version, differing only in showing an oval buckle on the breeches, [1] was with Peter V. Crooks (Washington DC) in 1973; another was with S. R. Christie-Miller in 1913, [2] possibly the portrait with W. M. Withers in 1911. [3]

Footnotesback to top

1) Engraved J. Neagle 1811 (pub. J. Stockdale).
2) He then believed it showed Boswell (NPG archive).
3) He alleged it was signed and dated 1791 and came from the collections of Braine [?] & St Helens [Lord St Helens, Alleyne Fitzherbert, 1753-1839] (NPG archive). One of these two versions was presumably the Murphy by Dance sold Christie’s, 13 November 1830, lot 43, bought Stockdale.

Physical descriptionback to top

Brown eyes, white powdered wig with a black tie, wearing a brown coat, yellow waistcoat with gold trim, black breeches and white stockings; the table cloth and chair upholstery are green.

Provenanceback to top

‘Miss Thrales’ by 1805, probably Hester Thrale (1764-1857), later Viscountess Keith;1 Colnaghi 1857, from whom purchased 1857.

1 The oldest of the Thrale daughters, who married Viscount Keith as his second wife in 1808. In 1805 two other daughters remained unmarried: Sophia (1771-1824), who married Henry Hoare in 1807, and Susanna (1770-1858), who did not marry, and to whom Murphy had dedicated a translation from Vanière (The Bee, 20 March 1799). In 1816 Mrs Piozzi wrote that her daughters ‘have a very fine Portrait of Mr Murphy full Length painted by Dance’ (30 May 1816, to Sir James Fellowes; E. A. & L. D. Bloom ed., The Piozzi Letters,V, 1999, p 493).

Exhibitionsback to top

Second special exhibition of National Portraits (William and Mary to MDCCC), South Kensington, 1867 (843); Arts, Industries & Manufactures, Dublin, 1872 (National Portrait Gallery 141a); Nathaniel Dance, Kenwood, 1977 (42); Johnson, Arts Council, 1984 (82).

Reproductionsback to top

T. Cook 1786 (for Murphy's Works); W. Ridley 1805 from an Original Picture by Nathl Dance Painted in the Year 1786 (European Mag.); W. Ward 1805 (from an Original Picture in the Possession of Miss Thrales); P. Condé 1811 as Aetatis 50; Hall (Biographical Mag.); E. Scriven 1815; J. Romney 1817.


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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