Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of John Richard West 4th Earl de la Warr (1758 - 1795) 1790c.

George Romney (1734-1802)

Portrait of John Richard West 4th Earl de la Warr (1758 - 1795), George Romney
Oil on canvas
18th Century
50 x 40 inches 127 x 101.2 cm
H Ward and W Roberts, Romney: a Biographical and Critical Essay with a Catalogue RaisonnÚ of his Works, London 1904, vol. II, p.44
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The Earl is shown here not in an identifiable military uniform, certainly not in his uniform as a Lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards, but in a blue coat with red collar and cuffs that is most probably Windsor Uniform, the personal dress of King George III, his family and favoured members of their circle. Before he succeeded to the title, at the death of his brother William Augustus in 1783, the Earl had been Equerry to Queen Charlotte for five years. In this he was following in his father''s footsteps, just as he and his late brother had followed the 2nd Earl into the army. Major General the 2nd Earl De la Warr had been Vice Chamberlain and then Lord Chamberlain and Master of the Horse to Queen Charlotte, both of which offices he held for over a decade until his death in 1777. Further court appointments followed for the 4th Earl, and at the date of this portrait he was a Lord of the Bedchamber, which office he held until his death in 1795.

The Earl died at Dawlish in on July 28th 1795 aged thirty seven. He was succeeded by his son George John, the ''fair Euryalus'' of his schoolfriend Lord Byron''s Childish Recollections, by his wife Catherine Lyell.

In cataloguing the portraiture by Romney of the 4th Earl – who sat numerous times in 1783-4 and again in 1791-3 – Ward and Roberts (loc. cit.) refer to a ''half whole-length (the canvas of which would measure about 63 x 50)'' as begun in December 1790, of which a copy was painted for the Earl's sister Lady Georgiana Buckley, which descended through her family until the Buckley sale at Christie's May 4th 1901 (lot 69). This must be the present composition, whose autograph replica is in the Leith Collection at Fyvie Castle. This latter is erroneously described by Ward and Roberts (p43) as a portrait of the 3rd Earl, on the authority of the 8th Earl de la Warr at the turn of the twentieth century.
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