Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of William Pitt the Younger 1759 - 1806 - after Hoppner 1800c.

John Jackson 

Portrait of William Pitt the Younger 1759 - 1806 - after Hoppner, John Jackson
Zoom
Oil on canvas
19th Century
30 x 25 inches 76.2 x 63.5 cm
 
Provenance:
The Richard Ellison Collection, sold Lot 53 Christie''s 16 May 1874 to Agnew 63/ 2. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri (Gift of Mrs. Marion McKie).
Literature:
Handbook of the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art, 1973,I,p.256 Handbook of the Collections in the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art and Mary Atkins Museum of Fine Arts, 1959,p.259
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Jackson had an extremely successful career as a portrait painter and obtained the patronage of such notable figures as the Earl of Carlisle and Sir George Beaumont.

This bust length portrait corresponds to the full length painting of Pitt by Jackson in the Palace of Westminster, both of which are closely related to John Hoppner''s famous state portrait, now at Cowdray Park. All these works originate from Pitt's sitting to Hoppner of 1804, which was used as a prototype to satisfy the demand for official versions of the politician's image. Another bust length version by Jackson currently hangs in the Palace of Westminster.

The sitter was the second son of William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham. He was educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge and called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1780. He became M.P. for Appleby in 1781 and was made Chancellor of the Exchequer under Lord Shelburne in 1782. He was made Prime Minister, at the age of twenty-five, in December 1783 and won an overwhelming victory at the General Election of the next year, vindicating the consistent support afforded to him by George III and the House of Lords, against Fox and his followers.
His attempts to fund the national debt were largely unsuccessful while his foreign policies, based on opposing France by means of European coalitions imposed heavy financial burdens on the economy. Increasing economic problems, exacerbated by wars against the French forced the perpetuation of the land tax and the introduction of an income tax in 1798. The outbreak of the Irish rebellion in the same year prompted the unification of the Irish Parliament with that of Great Britain in 1800. Pitt was forced to resign his office in 1801 in the face of intensifying economic and foreign problems and agreed to support Addington's administration. On the resignation of that ministry in 1804, Pitt re-entered office and instigated a more vigourous policy. However, war disasters at Ulm and Austerlitz shattered his European coalition and suffering a rapid deterioration in health, he died in January 1806, his last words being 'Oh, my country! how I leave my country.'
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