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Samuel Richardson

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- place 'London'

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Samuel Richardson

by Joseph Highmore
20 3/4 in. x 14 1/2 in. (527 mm x 368 mm)
NPG 1036

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed in yellow, bottom left: Samuel Richardson Author of Clarissa.

This portraitback to top

Though on a smaller scale, NPG 1036 is in the same pose as the Stationers' portrait painted in 1747 (under NPG 161), and a good deal is known about its origin. It was painted for the author's admirer and correspondent Dorothy, née Bellingham, wife of Sir Roger Bradshaigh. She first corresponded anonymously with the author of Clarissa on the matter of composition in the autumn of 1748. She later went with her husband to Highmore's studio to see the illustrations he was painting for Pamela and it was from him that Richardson learned the name of his correspondent. They met eventually on 6 March 1750 [1] and on 31 March he wrote asking her and Sir Roger's permission to 'take a copy of the picture that hangs over your chimney in New Bond street. You know not the pleasure I shall have in looking upon it, when you are at that seat, which is there drawn in so lively a manner, and is so very delightful'. [2] On 3 April Lady Bradshaigh replied granting the request on condition that the copy be a present and that in return Richardson allow Highmore to take another portrait of him. [3] On June 3 she wrote:

'Will you be so good, Sir, to let Mr. Highmore know I shall be glad to have him begin your picture as soon as it suits his convenience?
If you think proper, Sir, I would chuse to have you drawn in your study, a table or desk by you, with pen, ink and paper; one letter just sealed, which I shall fancy is to me. Whether sitting or standing, I leave to you and Mr. Highmore; also the dress; but think that in the half-length cannot be improved; and wish he could promise me as true a likeness ... I would not press too much; but shall be glad to hear the picture is finished.' [4]

It is not recorded whether Richardson actually sat again. The picture, corresponding with the prescription, was received at the Bradshaigh's seat, Haigh Hall, by 27 November 1750, and was much admired by Lady Bradshaigh who wrote: 'The first time my friend saw your picture, he asked, 'What honest face have you got there?' And, without staying for an answer, 'Do you know, I durst trust that man with my life, without further knowledge of him'. I answered, I do know you might do so with safety. And I put you down for a judge of physiognomy.' [5]

The picture over the mantelpiece in NPG 1036 is presumably Richardson's copy of that which hung over the Bradshaighs' chimney in New Bond Street. A canvas of this design 39 ¼ x 49 in., from the collection of Lord Tredegar, [6] was at Sotheby's, 26 March 1975, lot 44, with an allegedly traditional attribution to C. Philips. It is on stylistic grounds surely by Highmore, and may well have belonged to Richardson. The original, [7] in which there is a spaniel instead of the pet fawn Fanny, [8] could well be by Arthur Devis. If so, it would presumably have been painted before Devis left the north country for London in 1744. It is lettered Sir Roger and Lady Bradshaigh in the same hand as the inscription, bottom left, of NPG 1036. Other portraits of the Bradshaighs, which must have remained at Haigh Hall and descended to the Earls of Crawford, [9] are similarly lettered. The Devis thus probably had the same provenance as NPG 1036 until it was sold in 1896.

The following payments occur in Richardson's account of Gosling's Bank, 1750-52. [10]

1750 June 16 to Jos Highmore 42 — —

Oct 3 Mr McArdell 15 15 —

Nov 28 Nos Highmore 24 18 6

The McArdell payment refers no doubt to a mezzotint of the 1747 portrait. The £42 for June 16 may be for the Stationers' Hall pair of Richardson and his wife painted in 1747. [11] The sum of £24 18s 6d might be for either NPG 1036 or Richardson's copy of the Bradshaighs' portrait at New Bond Street. Both these were presumably paid for by the Bradshaighs, though Richardson, who was in touch with Highmore, may have paid in the first instance. [12]

Footnotesback to top

1) J. C. Duncan Eaves and B. D. Kimpel, Samuel Richardson, 1971, pp 220-31; also T. C. Duncan Eaves, 'The Harlowe family by Joseph Highmore ...’, Huntington Library Quarterly, VII, 1943, pp 89-96.
2) The Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, ed. L. Barbauld, 1804, VI, pp 13-14.
3) Ibid, pp 18-19.
4) Ibid, pp 23-24.
5) Ibid, p 50. An editorial note (p 72) states that Lady Bradshaigh changed the name of Richardson over the picture to Dickenson 'that it might not be known she corresponded with an author'.
6) J. Steegman, 'An 18th Century Painting Identified', Country Life, CXXXIV, 1963, II, p 164 (29).
7) J. C. Duncan Eaves and B. D. Kimpel, Samuel Richardson, 1971, reproduced, pl.v unattributed; Steegman, 'An 18th Century Painting', pp 1348-49, supports the attribution.
8) Seen in the background of NPG 1036 and in the Tredegar picture. Fanny was put down after breaking a leg - letter from Lady Bradshaigh to Richardson 25 November 1750, The Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, ed. L. Barbauld, 1804, VI, pp 46-47.
9) Through the marriage of the 23rd Earl with a Bradshaigh heiress in 1786.
10) Now Gosling's Branch, Barclays Bank Ltd, 19 Fleet Street; information kindly made available through the courtesy of the archivist, Miss Kathleen Bryon.
11) Highmore apparently charged 10 guineas for a 30 x 25. Such a payment to Highmore is recorded in the Gosling's Bank account of the author Edward Young in 1754. This is almost certainly for the head and shoulders at All Souls, Oxford, R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, 1912-25, II, p 192; reproduced J. C. Duncan Eaves and B. D. Kimpel, Samuel Richardson, 1971, pl.8.
12) A payment of £20 'to Ro Bradshaigh' in 1755, and one in 1752 for £17.4s to Anthony Highmore, the artist's son, remain unexplained. Anthony was known as a draughtsman.

Physical descriptionback to top

Dark blue eyes, plump face, double chin, fresh complexion, white wig to shoulders; white cravat, greyish-brown coat, open, over black waistcoat partly unbuttoned, his right hand tucked inside, knee breeches and hose, buckled shoes; in his study, a paper in his left hand, a table with ink, pen and a letter inscribed To La[dy] Br[adshaigh], green drapery and books behind; a large vase with flowers in a fireplace, background left, and above it a painting of Sir Roger and Lady Bradshaigh in Vandyck dress [1] in the grounds of Haigh Hall, its frame signed and dated in black on the wall above the mantlepiece: Jos Highmore pinx 1750.

1) J. L. Nevinson, 'Vandyke dress', Connoisseur, 1964, CLVII, pp 166-71.

Conservationback to top

Rather rubbed, a small damage in coat, lower right; pin holes at corners.

Provenanceback to top

Bought, 1896, from Colnaghi's; by 1877 in the possession of W. A. Mackinnon of Hyde Park Place and Acryse Park, Kent, 'a portrait of Richardson in oil, painted for Lady Bradshaigh'; [1] sold from his collection, Robinson and Fisher, 31 October 1895, lot 31, bought Colnaghi's; earlier history not known. Lady Bradshaigh died childless in 1785; her sister Elizabeth Bellingham (d. 1783) married Sir Robert Echlin, 2nd Bart; the portrait is likely to have passed through their daughter Elizabeth, wife of Francis Palmer of Swords, Co. Dublin, to Emma, daughter and sole heir of Joseph Hudworth Palmer who married, 1812, W. A. Mackinnon, 33rd Chief, father of the vendor. [2]

1) Notes and Queries, 5th series, VIII, 1877, p 101; reference kindly conveyed by T. C. Duncan Eaves.
2) Burke, Peerage, 1970, pp 987-98; Landed Gentry, 1939, pp 1481-82.

Exhibitionsback to top

'British Painting', British Council, Moscow and Leningrad, 1960 (2).

Reproductionsback to top

Engraved by James Basire for the Gentleman's Magazine, 1792, lettered Jos. Highmore. pinxit. 1750 Basire Sc. with details of the head and the Bradshaigh painting in the background. The accompanying letterpress states: ‘The Portrait of Mr. RICHARDSON, engraved in the annexed Plate 1, is from an original small whole length Painting by Mr. HIGHMORE in the Possession of a Correspondent, to whose Politeness we are under many obligations. The scene at the bottom of our Plate is in a corner of the Picture.' [1]

1) Gentleman's Magazine, LXII, part 2, p 784.

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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