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Anna Seward

1 of 4 portraits of Anna Seward

Anna Seward, by Tilly Kettle, 1762 -NPG 2017 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Anna Seward

by Tilly Kettle
1762
29 in. x 24 1/2 in. (737 mm x 622 mm)
NPG 2017

Inscriptionback to top

Signed bottom right: T. Kettle/Pinx. 1762.

This portraitback to top

The earliest dated painting by Kettle; the pose appears indebted to the Reynolds portrait of Kitty Fisher painted in 1759. [1] It was presumably coincidental that in 1762, the year it was painted, Anna Seward had met an officer called Taylor, whose departure from Lichfield the same year she regarded ‘with tender, but not visibly impassioned regret’. [2] Kettle also painted a matching half length of her younger sister, Sarah (d. 1764). [3] When Romney’s three-quarter length arrived in Lichfield, Anna Seward wrote: ‘I keep [the portrait] by poor Kettle, for which you know I sat at Nineteen, as a foil to Titiano’s [Romney’s], and am diverted with people taking it for my mother’s picture, after they have looked at Romney’s’. [4]

Footnotesback to top

1) At Petworth; it had been engraved in 1759 (D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, I, 2000, no.611).
2) In 1764, after they had met again in London, an engagement was quashed by Anna’s father, on the basis of Taylor’s inadequate income.
3) J. D. Milner, 'Tilly Kettle', Wal. Soc., XV, 1927, pl.XIVB; wearing a white dress with a blue cloak, seated writing; lot 149 in the White-Taylor sale cited above.
4) Letters of Anne Seward written between the years 1784 and 1807, 1811, II, p 194 (to William Hayley, 9 November 1788); her allusion to ‘poor Kettle’ refers to his death in 1786, in relative poverty en route to India.

Referenceback to top

Milner 1927
J. D. Milner, 'Tilly Kettle', Wal. Soc., XV, 1927, p 81.

Physical descriptionback to top

Brown eyes, dark brown hair, wearing a pearl necklet above a black velvet collar, and a white dress with a purple gown with dark fur edging; each page of her open book is headed MILTON and two of the pages are numbered 112 and 114; green tablecloth.

Provenanceback to top

Passed to the sitter’s nephew, Thomas White of Lichfield, thence by descent to his grandson Leonard Jauncey White-Thomson, Bishop of Ely (d. 1933), of Broomford Manor, Exmouth;1 Christie’s, 1 February 1924, lot 148, bought Leggatt for the NPG.

1 He also once owned the miniature by Meyer.

Exhibitionsback to top

Garrick, Johnson and the Lichfield Circle, Lichfield, 1953 (15); Johnson and the Lichfield Circle, Lichfield, 1959 (15); Johnson, Royal Exchange, London, 1964; Beningbrough 1979-94; Johnson and the Midlands, Lichfield, 1984 (31); Romantic Women Writers, Dove Cottage, the Wordsworth Museum, Grasmere, 1994-95 (8).

Reproductionsback to top

A. Cardon 1811 (from the original picture painted in 1762 by Kettle in the possession of Thomas White Esqr. Lichfield).


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, 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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