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Arthur Onslow

1 of 37 portraits by Hans Hysing

Arthur Onslow, by Hans Hysing, probably 18th century, based on a work of 1728 -NPG 1940 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Arthur Onslow

after Hans Hysing
probably 18th century, based on a work of 1728
30 in. x 25 in. (762 mm x 635 mm)
NPG 1940

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed in black in the bottom left spandrel: Rt. Honb Arthur Onslow, Esqr./ÆTAT: 38/Speaker of the House/of Commons/1728, and in the bottom right spandrel: And afterwards continued/Speaker during the/whole reign of/King George/the 2d..

This portraitback to top

NPG 1940 is probably a copy of the Hysing portrait of the sitter as speaker in 1728 (his age given as 38) [1] engraved three-quarter length by Faber junior (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83, 262) and lettered Anno Dni. 1728. Aetat suae 36. A corresponding portrait at Wadham College, with which the sitter was associated in 1708, [2] was exhibited 'Historical Portraits', Oxford, 1906 (93). Another, without artist's name, lent by the Rev A. L. Onslow and very dirty when seen at the Second Exhibition of National Portraits, South Kensingotn, 1867 (329), is at Clandon, the family seat. No other portraits exactly following this design are now known. A good example of the closely related three-quarter length version, with right hand extended, was presented to the Palace of Westminster in 1803 by the Rev. Richard Cope, Bart, [3] whose mother Anne was a daughter of Richard Onslow of Drungwick, Sussex. Another ascribed to Richardson is at the Guildhall, Guildford. The whole length in the same pose, now in the Palace of Westminster, formerly NPG 559 (see Provenance) and at one time ascribed to Kneller, is nearer Hysing. The best version is a head and shoulders presented to the Middle Temple by the sitter's son in 1803.

Footnotesback to top

1) Born 3 September 1691, R. Sedgwick, House of Commons 1715-54, 1970, p 308.
2) R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, 1912-25, III, p 225.
3) R. J. B. Walker, A Catalogue of paintings ... in the Palace of Westminster, 1960, II, p 83 (35).

Physical descriptionback to top

Near-black eyes and eyebrows, double chin, swarthy complexion, long flaxen wig; black gown with gold lace, open, over brown coat and matching waistcoat, long white lace cravat; plain brown background, lighter brown spandrels; lit from the left.

Conservationback to top

Thin, flat; varnish yellowed; old retouchings in the chin, neck-band, lower part of wig and cravat; small losses down side edges, pin holes in corners.

Provenanceback to top

Acquired from speaker's house, 1922, in exchange for the whole length, formerly NPG 559 presented to the British Museum [1] by Admiral Sir Richard Onslow, 1st Bart (1741-1817) and transferred, 1879, to the NPG; previous history of NPG 1940 not known.

1) Listed c.1804, G. P. Harding, List of Portraits ... in Various Mansions of the United Kingdom ... MS, c.1804, III, p 234.


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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