Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Pair of portraits depicting Eliab Harvey (1716-69), and his mother, Mary Harvey (née Williamson) 

Thomas Hudson (1701-79) and Charles D'Agar (1686-1761) 

Pair of portraits depicting Eliab Harvey (1716-69), and his mother, Mary Harvey (née Williamson), Thomas Hudson (1701-79) and Charles D'Agar (1686-1761)
Oil and Canvas
18th Century
28 x 23 ½ in (71 x 59.8 cm)
Christopher Blackett, Esq; Christies, 14th June 1968 as a pair by Hudson. Sold for £136.10.0 [130gns.]; American Private Collection.
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This fine portrait by Thomas Hudson, one of England's greatest native portraitists, depicts Eliab Harvey, M.P for the Dunwich constituency between 1761-68, a prominent speaker known for his rational approach and loyalty. Harvey came from an educated background - his great-great-grandfather Dr. William Harvey was credited for discovering the circulation of blood around the human body – and went to both Westminster and Trinity College Cambridge. He worked at Inner Temple before being called to the bar in 1641.

Harvey was elected to Parliament in 1761 through the patronage of the Whig leader Henry Fox (1705-1774), and spoke frequently in the Commons on a variety of subjects during his career, including a 'very sensible' speech on war with Germany in 1761, which earned him respect from the likes of Horace Walpole. Harvey was also clearly dedicated to his duties, turning down a position of Chief Justice of Ireland, in favour of his local constituency, much to the surprise of Fox; 'surely he should accept what will secure him a fortune?'. Harvey withdrew from Dunwich in 1768 but was nominated for Essex, coming bottom of the polls however. Harvey died on 23rd October 1769.

Thomas Hudson was one of the most fashionable portrait painters in London in the years prior to the age of Reynolds, celebrated for his elegant qualities and excellent use of colour. The white satin waistcoat seen in the present work is characteristic of Hudson and befitting to Harvey's status. We know that the Harvey family were patrons of Hudson, for Eliab's brother William was also painted by him [Betchworth Collection, Surrey]. We also know that there was a family group portrait commissioned from Kneller depicting Eliab with his two brothers and parents [sold by Colnaghi in 1980, whereabouts unknown].

Harvey's mother Mary Harvey (née Williamson) is seen in the accompanying work painted by Charles D'Agar. D'Agar established himself as a portrait painter in London from 1691 and experienced considerable success. His portraits, often showing close similarities to Dahl, show concern for a higher pitch of colouring and his women tend to be more prettified.
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