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Robert Southey

2 of 18 portraits of Robert Southey

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Robert Southey

by Robert Hancock
1796
6 3/4 in. x 5 3/4 in. (171 mm x 146 mm)
NPG 451

Inscriptionback to top

Inscribed on the back in ink probably by Cottle: Robert Southey/by Hancock 1796.

This portraitback to top

The drawing was also commissioned by Joseph Cottle who wrote, 'This portrait of Mr Southey by Hancock was a most happy likeness at the period at which it was taken; admitted to be such by all Mr Southey's friends' (Early Recollections, I, xxxii and see the entry for Hancock's portrait of Wordsworth).
Hancock made two drawings of Southey's mother, one of which he gave to his brother Tom, keeping the other for himself though liking neither - 'I growl at it' he wrote to Tom from London, 24 January 1798 (New Letters of Robert Southey, ed. Kenneth Curry, 1965, I, p 159 and The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, ed. Rev. Charles Cuthbert Southey, I, p 20); one is reproduced in The Life and Correspondence of Robert Southey, ed. Rev. Charles Cuthbert Southey, III, frontispiece. A pen and ink copy by Nathan Branwhite is in the British Museum (Laurence Binyon, Catalogue of Drawings by British Artists … in the British Museum, p 140).

Physical descriptionback to top

Half-length seated in profile to left aged 22, face touched with pink watercolour, remainder in greyish-brown pencil and wash with stippled and hatched background.

Provenanceback to top

Joseph Cottle, then his niece Elizabeth Green who sold it at Sotheby's in 1864; Messrs Fawcett & Noseda c.1865; Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Cunningham and his sale Sotheby's 10 May 1876 (548), bought by W. W. De la Rue who sold it to the NPG in 1877 together with similar drawings of Coleridge, Lamb and Wordsworth.

Exhibitionsback to top

Third Exhibition of National Portraits, South Kensington, 1868 (275) lent by Lieut.-Col. Cunningham; Arts Council 'Wordsworth Bicentenary', Kendal and Southampton 1970 (23c).

Reproductionsback to top

Stipple vignette by R. Woodman for Cottle's Early Recollections, 1837, I, p 6: 'From a Drawing by Hancock (1796) in the Possession of Mr Cottle'.


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 Robert Southey