Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Charles James Fox 1749 - 1806 1800c.

John Opie RA (1761-1807)

Portrait of Charles James Fox 1749 - 1806, John Opie
Oil on canvas
19th Century
50 x 40 inches 127 x 101.2 cm
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Charles James Fox is a figure so titanic in an understanding of late eighteenth century politics, that the observer might be forgiven for imagining that he had been Prime Minister or at the very least that he had regularly held the highest offices. This could not be further from the truth, and with the exception of a brief period as Foreign Secretary, significant position eluded him.
He remains a figure of such note, however, for particular reasons of his genius and, it must be said, of his birth. He was placed in the very heart of the Whig establishment as the son of the brilliant Henry Fox Lord Holland, Paymaster General of the Forces and Minister to King George II and Lady Caroline Lennox, daughter of the second Duke of Richmond. By the time that he came of age, in addition to the alliances and interests that his father had husbanded in his behalf, his uncle was the third Duke of Richmond, a political ally and the disposer of immense patronage.

In addition to these advantages, Fox was undeniably gifted with one of the most agile minds of his age and with an exceptionally winning personality. Only an addiction to gambling, which resulted in vast debts that his father paid unhesitatingly, hinted at the dissipation that would haunt him for the rest of his life. Unlike the shambling figure that would later be caricatured by Gillray Fox in his youth had once been known as one of London's foremost macaronis.

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