Sir William Quiller Orchardson

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Sir William Quiller Orchardson

by Henry Weigall
Oil on canvas, circa 1878-1881
27 1/2 in. x 21 1/2 in. (699 mm x 546 mm)
NPG 2117

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Inscriptionback to top

On reverse, canvas stamp: ‘W Badger late Eatwell / 97 Boundary Road / St John’s Wood / & 49 Dorset St. / Portman Square’.

This portraitback to top

Both artist and sitter were known as society portraitists, and both had homes in east Kent: Orchardson at Westgate-on-Sea from 1877 and Weigall near Ramsgate from 1879 to 1890. According to the sitter’s daughter, ‘Mr Weigall, the amateur painter [sic] also came over frequently from near Ramsgate; besides playing tennis he painted Orchardson’s portrait sometime or other, which was very like, but had no great merit as a work of art.’ [1]

She further suggested it had been a wedding present, but the Orchardsons married in 1873 and the canvas is from a later date. It does appear to have been a gift, however, as it is not recorded in Weigall’s sitter book. [2]

It may have been executed in Weigall’s studio in Ramsgate, or that in London. [3] The canvas came from the firm of William Badger, trading from 97 Boundary Road, St John’s Wood and 49 Dorset Street from 1877–8.

Henry Weigall was an accomplished and relatively well-known artist (see also his portrait of Sir Moses Montefiore, NPG 2178), but when the present work was acquired, his authorship had been forgotten. In November 1937 his son, J.W. Weigall, gave the information to the National Portrait Gallery, suggesting that the portrait dated from between 1876 and 1881. He added that Weigall was ‘a great friend of Orchardson’s and had a house at Westgate [sic] where Orchardson also had a house during this time’; moreover, his oldest brother ‘had a recollection of Orchardson sitting to his father’.[4]

Dr Jan Marsh

Footnotesback to top

1) Gray 1930, p.93.
2) With family papers etc., Weigall MSS Cat. Mk. U1371, Kent Archives, Maidstone.
3) In 1882 Weigall gave his London address as 35 Bryanston Square. Orchardson also had a London home and studio, which in the early 1880s was at 1 Spenser Street.
4) Memorandum by H.M. Hake, 30 Nov. 1937, NPG RP 2117. It would appear that Orchardson’s daughter sold the work a decade after her mother’s death, seemingly without attribution.

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length, profile nearly to left, blue-grey eyes, large moustache and dark receding hair with touches of grey, wearing grey jacket, red-brown tie, white shirt and handkerchief.

Provenanceback to top

With sitter, his widow and daughter, from whom purchased by Robert Duncan of Glasgow, from whose executors purchased 1926.

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