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Frederick, Duke of York and Albany

Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, by Sir David Wilkie, 1823 -NPG 2936 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Regency Portraits Catalogue

Frederick, Duke of York and Albany

by Sir David Wilkie
23 1/4 in. x 20 1/2 in. (591 mm x 521 mm)
NPG 2936

Inscriptionback to top

Signed and dated along the table-cloth fringe: David Wilkie 1823.

This portraitback to top

The portrait was commissioned by the Duke's military secretary, Sir Willoughby Gordon, in December 1818: 'to paint a portrait of HRH the Duke of York in small provided he could prevail on his Royal Highness to sit' (Allan Cunningham, Life of Sir David Wilkie, 1843, LI, p 14). The first sitting was noted in Wilkie's journal on 18 May 1822: 'The Duke of York came today to sit for Sir Willoughby Gordon's picture. I painted in the eyes, nose and forehead; found HRH a very fine subject for a picture' (ibid., II, p 72), and there were more sittings in June and July (MSS cited by Hamish Miles), Wilkie finishing it between his return from Edinburgh in September and the RA exhibition of 1823. Although the sittings took place in Wilkie's studio in Kensington the background and furniture were from the Commander-in-Chief's study in York House (not the Horse Guards: Allan Cunningham, Life of Sir David Wilkie, 1843, II, p 15). The paper is possibly the Horse Guards Memorandum of 25 April 1822 ordering a new type of sword for General Officers, both old and new types being distinguishable in the picture (Charles Ffoulkes in Journal of Society for Army Historical Research, XVIII, Spring 1939, pp 49-50). Several sketches in watercolour, chalk and ink were at the Maas Gallery in 1970, one signed and dated 1823 probably after completion; others are in the National Gallery of Scotland and The Binns (National Trust for Scotland). A copy by Robert Swan is in the Regimental HQ of the Grenadier Guards, Birdcage Walk.

Physical descriptionback to top

Whole-length seated to left in brown top-coat with Garter Star over field marshal's uniform (1814-28), reading an army order, a sword lying on the table.

Provenanceback to top

Commissioned by Sir Willoughby Gordon and by family descent to Lord Burgh at whose sale at Northcourt 7 February 1938 (182) it was bought by Leggatt for the NPG.

Exhibitionsback to top

RA 1823 (131); Third Exhibition of National Portraits, South Kensington, 1868 (193) lent by Sir Henry P. Gordon, Bart; 'The Grenadier Guards 1656-1956', St James's Palace 1956 (306) lent by the NPG; 'British Portraits', RA, 1956-7 (414); 'Sir David Wilkie', National Gallery of Scotland 1958 (29).

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.

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