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George Vertue

George Vertue, by George Vertue, 1741 -NPG 4876 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

George Vertue

by George Vertue
9 1/4 in. x 5 1/2 in. (235 mm x 140 mm)
NPG 4876

Inscriptionback to top

Signed or inscribed on papers at table edge: inv & del/G. Vertue/1741 and inscribed below: G. Vertue/London; within a cartouche to the right, below the Prince of Wales crest: HONOR/ALIT ARTES. [1]

1) Honos alit artes, Ainsworth's Latin Dictionary, ed. W. Ellis, 1878, p 671.

This portraitback to top

This drawing is almost identical in technique and size with the self-portrait tipped into Vertue's notebook in the British Museum, Add. MS 21111. [1] Both are drawn in black pencil heightened with red on handmade eighteenth-century paper and show Vertue holding a miniature, apparently of his patron, the Earl of Oxford. The setting and the inscriptions are the same. The British Museum drawing, whose history is unknown before the nineteenth century, is more crisp and detailed. Close comparison reveals a number of small differences, e.g. in the drapery top left, in the area where the sitter's right sleeve touches the arm of the chair; in the drawing of the face and below the rule in the lettering and the crest. There are also two strokes of red, bottom right, in the British Museum drawing. Some of these differences may be held to point to another hand, and the question of authorship of NPG 4876 remains, to some extent, open. There is, nonetheless, sufficient resemblance of style not to exclude Vertue. It is worth bearing in mind that some eighteenth-century draughtsmen such as Richardson and Carmontelle sometimes made several drawings of the same subject.

Footnotesback to top

1) Reproduced G. Vertue, Vertue Note Books (edited by The Earl of Ilchester), Walpole Society, I, frontispiece; p 162, note.

Physical descriptionback to top

Plump face, wig touching shoulders of coat; left hand holding miniature, his right hand resting on an engraving; on the table, miniatures, engraver's tools, brushes and palette; curtain drawn back behind chair revealing bookshelves with two small pictures below; to the right, an open cabinet inscribed at the top CAR.R, above, a small bust.

Conservationback to top

Laid down on a modern mount.

Provenanceback to top

Bought 1972 through Colnaghis at Sotheby's, 23 March, lot 78; previous history unknown.

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.

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