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Sydney Smith

1 of 9 portraits of Sydney Smith

Sydney Smith, by Henry Perronet Briggs, 1840, based on a work of 1833 -NPG 1475 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Sydney Smith

replica by Henry Perronet Briggs
1840, based on a work of 1833
50 1/4 in. x 40 1/4 in. (1276 mm x 1022 mm)
NPG 1475

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed lower left: The Revd Sydney Smith/1840.
A scarcely legible label removed from the stretcher in 1938 and now in registered packet 1475 in NPG archive reads:
Original Portrait of Revd Sydney Smith Painted by H. Perronet Briggs R.A.

This portraitback to top

The portrait was painted in 1840 for Smith's old friend Hudson Gurney, the antiquary, who had already commissioned Briggs to paint himself and his wife in 1836 and 1838. The original was exhibited RA 1833, according to The Athenaeum the least productive of any exhibition by that body for the last 40 years. The Times was not impressed either; 'Mr Briggs, who seems to have dwindled to a portrait painter, has some good works, but not enough to reconcile us to the loss of the historical and fanciful subjects he has at other times treated so successfully' (The Times, 1 July 1833, 3e). The 1840 copy remained at Keswick Hall until sold by John Henry Gurney in 1907. It was given by Lord Knutsford (Trustee of the NPG since 1896) whose stepmother was Smith's daughter Saba and whose first wife was Smith's granddaughter Elizabeth Hibbert.

Physical descriptionback to top

Three-quarter-length seated sideways in a Regency chair, black clerical suit, white shirt and neckcloth; grey hair and eyebrows, his right eye grey, the left brown, plump face, benevolent smile.

Provenanceback to top

Hudson Gurney of Keswick Hall, Norfolk, and in his family possession until sold at Christie's 25 July 1907 (62), bought by W. Leggatt on behalf of Viscount Knutsford and presented by him.

Exhibitionsback to top

(Possibly the original) RA 1833 (348).


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: Richard Walker, Regency Portraits, National Portrait Gallery, 1985, 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 Sydney Smith