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George Washington

1 of 3 portraits by James Sharples

George Washington, by Ellen Sharples; James Sharples, 1796-1797 -NPG 2903 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

George Washington

by Ellen Sharples, after James Sharples
1796-1797
9 1/2 in. x 7 1/2 in. (241 mm x 191 mm) oval, uneven
NPG 2903

This portraitback to top

For the Sharples practice, see NPG 174.
The composition approaches that of the miniature of Washington by Walter Robertson, but the cut of the collar (besides the Sharples's movements) confirms a slightly later date. Knox illustrates five copies, [1] of which two are in the Sharples collection in Bristol Art Gallery; [2] another was sold Christie’s, 22 May 1973, lot 84. A pencil copy of the head alone by Ellen Sharples is in a folio of her drawings at Bristol. [3] A half-length version in oils belonged to the Hanover Trust Bank, London, in 1968. [4] The type was engraved by Albert Rosenthal in 1900 from a Sharpless’ pastel Owned in Philadelphia. [5]

Footnotesback to top

1) K. McC. Knox, The Sharples, 1930, nos.49, 51-54. See also J. H. Morgan & M. Fielding, The Life Portraits of Washington, 1931, pp 409-10.
3) K. McC. Knox, The Sharples, nos. 49, 51; Cat. of the Sharples Coll., Bristol, 1910, nos.1, 72 (both listings agreeing that one was attributable to James Sharples, and the other on ivory was by Ellen Sharples).
3) K. McC. Knox, The Sharples, 1930, no.94 (Sharples collection).
4) Illus. Connoisseur, CLXIX, 1968, p 73; cf. K. McC. Knox, The Sharples, 1930, no.48.
5) C. H. Hart, Catalogue of the Engraved Portraits of Washington, 1904, no.708.

Physical descriptionback to top

Clear grey eyes, powdered hair, wearing the Continental uniform of blue coat with buff lapels and gold epaulettes and buff waistcoat; dark grey background with deep blue shading upper right.

Provenanceback to top

Given by the artist to William Russell (1740-1818) of Birmingham;1 by descent to T. H. Russell by whom, with his sister Mrs Alexander Scott, presented, together with a portrait of Joseph Priestley [NPG 2904], 1936.

1 Provenance as given to Hake by T. H. Russell in November 1936. Russell knew Washington in America, meeting him at Mount Vernon in 1797, see S. H. Jeyes, The Russells of Birmingham in the French Revolution and in America 1791-1814, 1911, pp 262, 265; and Priestley NPG 2904.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, 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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