The Gallery holds the most extensive collection of portraits in the world. Search over 215,000 works, 150,000 of which are illustrated from the 16th Century to the present day.

Advanced Collection search

David Garrick

David Garrick, by Benjamin Wilson, circa 1752-1755 -NPG 6249 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

David Garrick

by Benjamin Wilson
circa 1752-1755
30 in. x 25 1/8 in. (762 mm x 638 mm)
NPG 6249

This portraitback to top

The head sufficiently resembles that in the Liotard pastel of 1751 for the traditional identification to be acceptable. Wilson, a collector of Rembrandt etchings, appears to have based the composition on that of Lieven van Coppenol. [1]
Between 1753 and 1761 Wilson painted several theatrical portraits of Garrick before being overtaken by his assistant Zoffany. ‘We all love Wilson’, Garrick later wrote, ‘but You will find him with all his knowledge, & Philosophy, as Simple as a Child.’ [2] Two half-length portraits called Garrick and attributed to Benjamin Wilson in the Garrick Club are less convincing likenesses. [3]

Footnotesback to top

1) C. White ed., Rembrandt in England in the 18th century, 1983, no.58. Rembrandt’s plate illus. All the Etchings of Rembrandt, 1977, B 283.
2) ?May 1767; D. M. Little & G. M. Kahrl, The Letters of David Garrick 1963, II, no.463.
3) G. Ashton, Pictures in the Garrick Club, ed. K. A. Burnim & A. Wilton, 1997, nos.246 and 251.

Physical descriptionback to top

Brown eyes, grey powdered hair, wearing a blue coat and holding an open folio HAMLET above a skull; he sits in a dark blue chair.

Provenanceback to top

Kenyon family since c.1830;1 by descent to the 5th Baron Kenyon,2 by whom bequeathed 1993.

1 W. G. Constable, Richard Wilson, 1953, p 66, no.11.
2 Listed at Gredington by J. Steegman, Portraits in Welsh Houses, I, p 159, no.70.

Exhibitionsback to top

Art Treasures, Wrexham, 1876 (308), as by Richard Wilson; Richard Wilson, Tate Gallery, 1925 (41) as by Richard Wilson; Pictures from Welsh Private Collections, Cardiff, 1951 (62); Works of Art from Private Collections, Manchester, 1960 (130).


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 David Garrick