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Thomas Secker

20 of 1413 portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Thomas Secker

after Sir Joshua Reynolds
based on a work of circa 1764-1765
30 in. x 25 1/8 in. (762 mm x 638 mm)
NPG 850

This portraitback to top

Although the prototype of the portrait by Reynolds, to whom Secker sat as archbishop in July [1] and August 1764, and September 1765, has been taken to be the three-quarter length presented, 1920, by the sitter's descendant the Rev. J. C. Gawtherne to St Edmund Hall, Oxford, [2] the slightly different version at Lambeth Palace [3] inscribed A: BP. SECKER/1758 [4] is more convincing as a work by this artist. A three-quarter length copy of the type is at Cuddesdon. An oval copy sold from the Earl of Hardwicke's collection, Christie's, 30 June 1888, lot 55, has been wrongly equated with NPG 850. [5] At Wimpole by 1798 it was noted there by Scharf in 1879: 'oval of Archbp Secker. head in oval frame after Reynolds'. [6] This disposes of any possibility that it was a rectangular picture with an oval slip or a painted, instead of a true oval.

Footnotesback to top

1) Given incorrectly by C. R. Leslie and T. Taylor, Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1865, p 240, as 'Tucker'.
2) Sir Ellis K. Waterhouse, Reynolds (English Master Painters), 1941, p 55; R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, 1912-25, III, p 280 and pl.xx.
3) R. L. Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the Possession of the University, Colleges, City and County of Oxford, 1912-25, III, p 280, where listed as a replica.
4) A. Graves and W. V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1899-1901, p 874, read the date as relating to the painting instead of the sitter's translation to Canterbury.
5) Ibid.
6) Sir George Scharf's Trustees' Sketchbooks, XXVI, p 82; British Museum, Add. MS 6395, f.20.

Physical descriptionback to top

Grey eyes, [1] thick uneven eyebrows, broad face, fresh complexion, white wig; bands, rochet and chimere; dark brownish-grey background.

1) Other portraits, e.g. by 'Willes' and Hudson, show brown eyes.

Conservationback to top

A U-shaped damage running left of the wig to corner of the left eye has been restored; retouchings to chin, left edge of cheek and left corner of the mouth; cleaned and varnished 1895 and 1898.

Provenanceback to top

Bought, 1890, from Henry Graves & Co, purchasers at Christie's, 8 November 1890, lot 70; earlier history not known.

Reproductionsback to top

The type first engraved by Charles Townley, 1797.


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.

View all known portraits for Sir Joshua Reynolds

View all known portraits for Thomas Secker