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Henry Pelham

Henry Pelham, by John Shackleton, circa 1752 -NPG 871 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Henry Pelham

by John Shackleton
circa 1752
48 3/4 in. x 40 1/4 in. (1238 mm x 1022 mm)
NPG 871

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed, top right: RT. HONBLE. HENRY PELHAM/d.1754.

This portraitback to top

Although the closeness to the Hoare type (NPG 221) might suggest that it derives from it, the handling of NPG 871 seems to point to a separate sitting or sittings. A replica showing the large standish, barely visible in NPG 871 at Christie's, 14 January 1944, lot 149, is possibly the portrait formerly at Clumber before dispersal of the collection in 1937, lent by the Duke of Newcastle to the 'Art-Treasures Exhibition', Manchester, 1857 (350). A double portrait in the same pose with his secretary John Roberts [1] was engraved by R. Houston. An oil showing the letter dated London 1752 and signed Merepoix [2] as in the Houston engraving J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83, 87 (II state) was in New York, 1947, and the London art trade, 1958. A single portrait at Hagley was listed c.1796 [3] as by Shackleton. A standing whole length, to the right, also in chancellor's gown and in poor condition when sold at Christie's, 2 April 1965, lot 136, was inscribed as by Hoare but might well be by Shackleton (d. 1767); despite his position as principal painter to George II from 1749, this artist remains comparatively obscure. A rare example of his work in a public collection is the whole length of George II (q.v.) commissioned by the British Museum in 1762; compared to NPG 871 with its heavy flesh tones and weak modelling of the left hand, the treatment is much more painterly.

Physical descriptionback to top

Dark blue-grey eyes, heavy eyebrows nearly concealing the wart seen, right, in NPG 221, furrowed brow, protruding lower lip, long grey wig falling in front of his left shoulder and behind his right; chancellor's gown with gold lace over grey coat, pale grey lace cravat and wrist ruffles; seated in a plain red chair, draped curtain behind, a letter without writing in his left hand; two books on a table, right, with corner of standish just visible in front; greenish-brown background; lit from top left.

Conservationback to top

Losses in varnish below top stretcher; surface cleaned and varnished 1895, 1902; pin holes at corners.

Provenanceback to top

Bought, 1891, from Lord Chichester as by Hoare; from the Chichester collection, Stanmer, where sketched by Scharf, October 1886; [1] presumably by descent from the sitter whose nephew Thomas was created Earl of Chichester in 1801.

1) Sir George Scharf's Trustees' Sketchbooks, XXXIII, p 66.

Reproductionsback to top

Engraved by R. Houston.


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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