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John Wilkes

John Wilkes, by Unknown artist, 1769? -NPG 284 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

John Wilkes

by Unknown artist
1769?
14 in. x 10 in. (355 mm x 256 mm)
NPG 284

This portraitback to top

A competent but damaged drawing, NPG 284 provides one of the kindest heads of Wilkes to survive. It relates directly to a cruder, anonymous mezzotint, [1] dateable 1769, published by R. Sayer, titled ... Four times elected Member of Parliament for the County of Middlesex, [2] Alderman of the Ward of Farringdon Without ... , but differs principally in omitting the alderman’s robe and chair. [3]
NPG 284 has previously always been attributed to Richard Earlom, but it is not at all clear why.

Footnotesback to top

1) The NPG example has ‘J. Dixon’ written on the back.
2) That is, after 14 April 1769, when Wilkes’s fourth election was declared void by the House.
3) The print (J. C. Smith, British Mezzotint Portraits, IV, p 1749, no.160) also shows the paper on the table lettered: The Liberty of all Peers & Gentlemen & what touches me more sensibly of all ... [Wilkes’s defence plea, 1763; J. Almon, Correspondence of John Wilkes, 1805, I, p 117]; another inscribed: To George Bellas Esqr. (the Portsmouth lawyer, founder member of the Bill of Rights Society, who chaired the Middlesex election meeting on 14 February 1769).

Physical descriptionback to top

Holding a quill in his right hand and wearing an ill-defined dark collar (as if for an Order).

Provenanceback to top

Presented by William Smith 1869.

Exhibitionsback to top

In the Minds and Hearts of the People, NPG Washington, 1974; Bicentennial Center Opening, Yorktown, Va., 1976; Royal Westminster, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, London 1981 (200).


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.

View all known portraits for John Wilkes