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Sir Richard Steele

4 of 33 portraits of Sir Richard Steele

Sir Richard Steele, by Unknown artist, circa 1720-1723 -NPG 1506a - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Later Stuart Portraits Catalogue

Sir Richard Steele

by Unknown artist
circa 1720-1723
3 1/4 in. x 2 3/8 in. (83 mm x 60 mm) oval
NPG 1506a

This portraitback to top

One of a set of four miniatures of Richard Steele and apparently of his three children, originally mounted together within an oval frame; [1] they were framed separately by 1910. On the back of the oval frame the sitters were identified, in script probably dating from before 1782, as Richard Steel, Miss Mary Steel, Eugene Steel and Lady Steel [2] (but probably Elizabeth Steele, see NPG 1506b). Though they are the same size and were framed together in the 18th-century, there is some difference in quality (Mary NPG 1506d seems better than the others; Elizabeth NPG 1506b and Eugene NPG 1506c seem to be by the same hand); all were previously attributed to Christian Richter. [3]
Assuming they were painted at the same time, a date between 1720 and 1723, when Eugene died, seems indicated by the childrens’ ages.

Footnotesback to top

1) Illus. G. W. Aitken, Life of Richard Steele, 1889, II, f.p.294.
2) The label is now separately conserved; it reads as follows:
Sir Richard Steel Knight
Author of the Spectators, Tatlers
Guardians, and Several Political writings
Father of Elizabeth Lady Trevor of Bromham
[NPG 1506a]
Miss Mary Steel
[NPG 1506d] Eugene Steel [NPG 1506c]
Lady Steel
Daughter of Jonathan Scarlock Esqr
of White House, Llangunnor
[NPG 1506b]

In the centre, in a different hand after 1783 (Lady Trevor being described in the past tense), is written:
Lady Trevor was
third cousin to the
late Revd Dr Scurlock M A
of Lovehill House Bucks
and Blaencorse Carmarthens
S Wales

3) See References. An attribution to Richter was repeated in NPG catalogues from 1931 to 1963 (but in 1914 they had been described as ‘possibly by Bernard Lens’). The attribution to Richter was finally dismissed in 1975 by V. J. Murrell in his examination reports on file.

Referenceback to top

Nisser 1927
W. Nisser, Michael Dahl, 1927, p 107, cat. p 140, no.21 as by Christian Richter.

For all four miniatures (NPG 1506a-d):
Aitken 1889
G. W. Aitken, Life of Richard Steele, 1889, II, f.p.294, unattributed.

Long 1927
B. Long, British Miniatures, 1927, p 363 as ascribed to Richter.

Nichols 1809
J. Nichols, Epistolary Correspondence of Sir Richard Steele, vol.I, 1809, p xiii.

Nisser 1927
W. Nisser, Michael Dahl, 1927, p 107, cat. pp 139-40, nos.20-23 as by Christian Richter.

Piper 1963
D. Piper, Catalogue of the Seventeenth Century Portraits in the National Portrait Gallery 1625-1714, 1963, pp 329-30 as attributed to Richter.

Provenanceback to top

1 Elizabeth, Lady Trevor (1709-82), Steele’s eldest daughter; her executor and 3rd cousin, Rev. David Scurlock (d. 1793); his son John Trevor Scurlock (d. 1863); his adopted daughter, Miss Mills, by 1889; presented by George Harland-Peck 1908.

1 See G. W. Aitken, Life of Richard Steele, 1889, I, pp xiv-xv, and f.p.172.

This extended catalogue entry is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Later Stuart Portraits 1685-1714, National Portrait Gallery, 2009, 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 Richard Steele