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Thomas Kerrich

1 of 10 portraits by Thomas Kerrich

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Thomas Kerrich

by Thomas Kerrich
1774
17 in. x 11 3/4 in. (433 mm x 300 mm) uneven
NPG 6531

Inscriptionback to top

Signed in ink verso: T. Kerrich/ipse fecit/L’Arricia 1774.

This portraitback to top

The least orthodox of a number of accomplished self-portrait drawings which Kerrich made in Italy. [1] When he went abroad in 1771 his mentor William Cole described him as ‘an ingenious young man, a brother antiquary, and a most excellent draftsman’, [2] and in the course of his travels one of his drawings obtained a silver medal from the Academy of Painting at Antwerp. [3] After his return to Cambridge Kerrich continued to draw both antiquarian subjects and portraits, [4] Cole even suggesting that

‘as his fortunes are very small and his genius very great, I took the liberty, when I sat to him for my picture at his room in college last autumn, to tell him that I thought he had better give up his design of going into orders ... and take up with the better profession of a face painter, for which he seems admirably calculated'. [5]
In the event, bolstered by several benefices, Kerrich pursued a productive antiquarian career.

Footnotesback to top

1) One dated 1775, sold Sotheby’s 22 March 2000, lot 137 (and at least two more were in that sale - lots 129, 135-37 and 142 each comprising a folio/album of Kerrich drawings); others include those sold Christie’s, 11 February 1987, lot 125; and 21 March 1989, lot 87, dated 1774.
2) The Rev Wm. Cole, 17 Nov. 1771 ('Rev Thomas Kerrich, F.S.A.', in Nichols Illustrations, VI, 1831, p 811n).
3) 'Rev Thomas Kerrich, F.S.A.', in J. Nichols, Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth century ... intended as a sequel to The Literary Anecdotes, VI, 1831, p 812.
4) See 'Rev Thomas Kerrich, F.S.A.', in J. Nichols, Illustrations of the Literary History of the Eighteenth century ... intended as a sequel to The Literary Anecdotes, 1831, p 814 (list of etchings by Kerrich c.1782-85); p 816 (list a portrait drawings engraved by G. S. Facius).
5) Not dated (Wal. Corr., II, p 83n8), but probably 1780 since Kerrich drew a portrait of Cole in 1779 (ibid., p 182n16) cf. the drawing in the British Museum (1972-U-536), illus. A Noble Art, British Museum, 2000, no.156.

Provenanceback to top

Hugh Wyatt, a descendant of one of the artist’s daughters;1 Sotheby’s, 22 March 2000, lot 128, ‘Property of a Descendant of the Artist’, bought Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox, from whom purchased with the aid of the National Art Collections Fund 2000.

1 I am grateful to Sir John Guinness for this identification (letter 10 Jan. 2001, NPG archive).


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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