Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Richard Twining (1749-1824), wearing blue coat, his waistcoat embroidered with flowers and gold thread, lace cravat, his powdered hair worn en queue 1771

John Smart (1741-1811)

Portrait miniature of Richard Twining (1749-1824), wearing blue coat, his waistcoat embroidered with flowers and gold thread, lace cravat, his powdered hair worn en queue, John Smart
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Watercolour on ivory
18th Century
Oval, 39mm (1 ½ in.) high
 
Provenance:
By direct family descent from the sitter, by whom sold; Christie’s, London, 25 May 2004, lot 175; Bought from above by S.J. Phillips; Karin Henninger-Tavcar, 2006; Private Collection, Germany.
Richard Twining was the grandson of Thomas Twining (d.1741), founder of the original teahouse at Tom’s coffeehouse, Devereux Court, Strand. He was the son of Daniel Twining (1713-1762) and his second wife Mary Little.

Richard was literally born into the tea business, his birth taking place at Devereux Court. After a brief education at Eton, he entered the business at the age of sixteen and in 1771, the year of this portrait, took over the business from his widowed mother. Richard was also married in 1771 to Mary, daughter of John Aldred, merchant of Norwich. The bracelet setting of this miniature by Smart suggests that this may have been commissioned as part of the betrothal. The couple were to have five sons, three of whom later became partners, and three daughters.[1]

Richard was instrumental in quadrupling the consumption of tea in England after he persuaded the Prime Minister, William Pitt, to reduce tea duty.[2] As Chairman of the ‘London Tea Dealers’, Pitt regularly consulted him.

Richard commissioned the famous doorway to the Strand shop, decorated with a lion and two Chinese figures, in 1787. The sign and typeface used by Twinings then is the same as the one the company still use and is now the world’s oldest logo.

In 1793 Richard was elected a director of the East India Company and published three papers of ‘Remarks’ on the tea trade. He retired in 1816 due to ill health, dying at Dial House, Twickenham, in 1824.

Like John Smart and Robert Wigram (cat. 33), Richard Twining was a member of the volunteers, joining the Royal Westminster regiment in 1805. Smart’s depiction of Richard is typical of the demographic of his sitters at this date, who were largely members of the wealthy merchant class.

[1] In 1801, Richard Twining commissioned Smart to paint one of his daughters (sold Christie’s, London, 9 December 2003, lot 157).
[2] The Commutation Act of 1784 reduced the tea duty from over 100 to 25 percent and eliminated smuggling.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.