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Portraits in Profile: The Dighton Family

Past display archive
6 January - 8 July 2001

Room 16


William Jackson ('A jack in office')
by Robert Dighton
published 4 January 1793
NPG D10872

The Dighton family was one of the most notable artistic families of the Regency period. This display presents a selection of approximately thirty eight hand-coloured etchings, dating from the 1790s to the 1820s, by Robert Dighton Snr (1751-1814) and his three sons, Robert Jnr, Denis and Richard.

Less harsh than the offerings of their contemporaries, such as James Gillray and George Cruikshank, these humorous studies offer invaluable depictions of prominent personalities of the period - members of the royal household, parliament, military, society, city and stage. In addition they provide unique portraits of colourful local characters who were clearly well known at the time.

The Dighton family's output of full length portraits established a tradition which would continue and evolve; the Vanity Fair cartoons being direct descendants of such a tradition.


Robert Dighton, 1751-1814
Robert Dighton Jnr, 1786-1865
Denis Dighton, 1792-1827
Richard Dighton, 1796?-1880
The Third Generation

Charles Stanhope, 4th Earl of Harrington ('A noble aiddecamp')
by and published by Robert Dighton Jr
published June 1804
NPG D10765

Portraits in the exhibition

Robert Dighton, 1751-1814
Robert Dighton Jnr, 1786-1865
Denis Dighton, 1792-1827
Richard Dighton, 1796?-1880
Joshua Dighton, 1831-1908

Selected bibliography

This guide is drawn from the National Portrait Gallery's substantial reference collection, consisting of over 80,000 portrait engravings amassed since the Gallery's foundation in 1856 and now housed in the Heinz Archive and Library.

Curated by Jill Springall
Heinz Archive and Library



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