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Alexander Pope

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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Alexander Pope

by William Hoare
circa 1739
23 7/8 in. x 17 3/4 in. (602 mm x 449 mm)
NPG 299

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed on the back of the paper, right: This Picture belongs to Mr Andrews/of Hillhouse./Wm. Hoare/Bath./1784.

This portraitback to top

Too little is known to pronounce upon Hoare's studio practice, but what might be termed his personal style is probably reflected in the lively and almost Watteauesque portrait of Zincke in the British Museum. Hoare made his reputation, however, as a painter of portraits in crayon, and eventually had also a considerable output of oils. His portraits in oil probably began life, as in the case of Chatham (q.v.), with an ad vivum chalk drawing, the costume and accessories being put in without further sittings. It is not improbable that the highly finished pastel paintings were also worked up as required from such sketches as and when commissions came in. NPG 299 is similar in technique to the artist's drawing of Newcastle (q.v.), and the paper is turned over the stretcher in the same manner. The portrait is not dated but both sitter and artist were in Bath in 1739, the latter newly returned after nine years in Italy. This conjunction provides a terminus for the type. A pastel now in the collection of Professor Maynard Mack, Yale University, is datable to c.1743 from the inscription on the back: ‘For Mrs. Blount to be left at Lady Gerards in Welbeck Street by Oxford Chappel.' [1] The inscription on NPG 299 giving the date 1784 is probably in Hoare's own hand. While it may conceivably represent the date of completion, NPG 299 may have been drawn much earlier, remained in the studio, and made over to Andrews in 1784.
Wimsatt discusses a number of later repetitions in oil. [2] One such example may be the portrait at Yale from the collection of the late Mr James Osborn, New Haven, Connecticut, [3] formerly in the Hurd Library, Hartlebury Castle, where listed 1813, 'Mr Pope - painted by Mr Hoare of Bath from an original in Crayons by himself'. An oil first noted in J. Seeley's Stowe, A Description of the House and Gardens, published 1797, was probably that painted for Pope's friend Nugent whose daughter married the Marquess of Buckingham, master of Stowe. It was last heard of in the Peel Heirlooms sale, from Drayton Manor, Robinson, Fisher and Harding, 6 and 7 December 1917, lot 90. [4] Engraved by Picart in 1807, it had been variously attributed to Hudson and Richardson. A poor quality oil of the Hoare type with the name Peel just visible on the back was seen at the NPG in 1971.

Footnotesback to top

1) Mrs Blount was there in November 1743, see The Correspondence of Alexander Pope, ed. G. Sherburn, 1956, IV, p 485, noted by Wimsatt in a letter, 25 June 1973.
2) W. K. Wimsatt, The Portraits of Alexander Pope, 1965, pp 287-97.
3) Ibid, p 290, pl.63.4.
4) Ibid, pp 283-86.

Physical descriptionback to top

Deep blue eyes, grey eyebrows, strong chin, light blue velvet cap over shaven head; matching blue gown over slate-coloured coat, white shirt; plain brown background, lighter on the left.

Conservationback to top

A little rubbed and faded; some small losses; a water stain (?), bottom right.

Provenanceback to top

Bequeathed, 1870, by the Rev. Charles Townsend of Preston, near Brighton; possibly owned by John Andrews (d. 1786) of Hillhouse, Gloucestershire, or painted for him but never collected [1] thus remaining in the artist's studio; given or bequeathed by his son Prince Hoare [2] to the Rev. Townsend.

1) W. K. Wimsatt, The Portraits of Alexander Pope, 1965, pp 287-89.
2) Dramatist and artist (1755-1834); not to be confused with the sculptor Prince Hoare, the artist's brother.

Reproductionsback to top

The type engraved by C. Picart after the drawing by Gardner, published in Bowles’ edition of the Works of Pope, 1806; also by Alais lettered Alexander Pope ... from a Picture in the Possession/of the Marquis of Buckingham./London. Published Sept 1st 1821, by Thos. McLean, 26 Haymarket, and again by Alais From a Picture by Richardson,/in the Duke of Buckingham's Collection at Stowe./London: ... 1824.

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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