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William Shenstone

William Shenstone, by Thomas Ross, 1738 -NPG 4386 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

William Shenstone

by Thomas Ross
1738
29 7/8 in. x 22 1/4 in. (759 mm x 565 mm)
NPG 4386

Inscriptionback to top

Signed above his right shoulder: Thos: Ross Pinxt. 1738; on a label on the back of the canvas an inscription, in the sitter's hand, reads: This Picture belongs to Mary Cutler, given to/her by her Master William Shenstone,/January first 1754: in acknowledgment/of her native genius, her magnanimity, her/Tenderness, & her Fidelity./Will: Shenst[one].

This portraitback to top

NPG 4386, with its attached testimonial, may have been in the nature of a quid pro quo for Shenstone's recurrent failure to pay Mary Cutler her wages (see Provenance). [1] The earliest recorded engraving of the portrait by J. Hall, 1780, lettered Done from an Original Picture in the Possession of The REV. Mr. GRAVES appears closer to NPG 4386 than to the replica or copy given, 1824, to Pembroke College, Oxford, by Joseph Plymey, later Corbett, Archdeacon of Salop (d. 1830).
No other portraits by this artist are apparently known.

Footnotesback to top

1) M. Williams, 'A Portrait of William Shenstone', Times Literary Supplement, 22 January 1944, p 48.

Physical descriptionback to top

Blue eyes, light brown eyebrows, full lips, florid complexion, short powdered grey hair, light brown at temples; white cravat, blue coat, open, over red waistcoat with gold lace; light yellowish-grey background shading to brown; brown painted oval.

Conservationback to top

Badly rubbed; old retouchings to tip of nose, chin and right background; cleaned and restored, 1965.

Provenanceback to top

Bought, 1964, from Mrs G. E. F. Hyde of North Wraxall, Wilts; given by the sitter, 1754, to his servant Mary Cutler; by 1780 owned, according to the engraving, by Shenstone's friend and executor Richard Graves, poet and author (1715-1804), who presumably acquired it from Mary Cutler; sold, 1943, as Sheridan by Reynolds, from the collection of Colonel J. S. Gibbons of Boddington Major, near Cheltenham, bought Mrs Hyde.

Reproductionsback to top

Engraved by John Hall for the 1780 edition of Shenstone's Poems.


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 William Shenstone

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