Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of King George III (1738-1820) wearing the uniform of the Royal Horse Guards, 1820, after Richard Collins (c.1760-1805) 

Henry Bone RA (1755-1834)

Portrait of King George III (1738-1820) wearing the uniform of the Royal Horse Guards, 1820, after Richard Collins (c.1760-1805), Henry Bone RA
Enamel on gold
19th Century
Oval, 60mm high
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George III was the first British monarch from the house of Hannover to be born in England and speak English as a first language. As a result George quickly won the respect of a nation who were tired of being run by an uninterested foreigner, and became affectionately known as ‘Farmer George’ on account of his love of agriculture. George’s popularity only increased with time and when his mental illness became apparent, the public and press responded with compassion and pity. The turmoil in France, leading ultimately to the French Revolution, also acted as a bold reminder to the public of their long-standing conservative monarch, and George’s popularity rose further still.

The present work is after the head-type by Collins who was appointed Principal Portrait Painter in Enamel to George III 1789-1791. The King is shown wearing the uniform of the Royal Horse Guards known as ‘The Blues’, a regiment he took great interest and pride in, with a Garter star at his chest and a sword belt over his right shoulder, a gold-trimmed hat with a gold-stemmed black cockade on his head.

Bone was a prolific yet highly accomplished enamellist praised for his strength of drawing and flawless colouring. He was bestowed royal patronage throughout the reigns of three monarchs; George III, George IV and William IV and was noted for his kind and affectionate persona. His repute can perhaps be gleaned by the high prices he charged, including a large enamel of a mythological scene which he sold for 2,200 guineas – about £75,000 in today’s money. The present work can be considered unusually large for one of his bust-length copies and the inscription on the reverse, dating to just after King George’s death, suggests it was intended to be a clear display of affection possibly in memory of the much-loved monarch.
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