Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey (1764-1845), 1811 

John Wright (c.1745-1820)

Portrait of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey (1764-1845), 1811, John Wright
Zoom
Pencil, black chalk and watercolour
19th Century
12 3/4 x 9 1/2 inches
 
Provenance:
The Hon. George Walpole (1758-1835)
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This important ad-vivuum portrait of Earl Grey by John Wright was drawn for his friend and Whig parliamentary colleague, the Hon. George Walpole and its success is attested to by the publication of a stipple engraving from the composition.

A head and shoulders version of the present drawing was sold at Christie's, 19 December 1978, Lot.57. executed in 1811, at a critical time in British politics when the state of George Ill''s mental health was a cause for considerable concern and Grey and Grenville were joint advisors to the Prince Regent. As a result of this situation Grey himself was a strong candidate for the office of prime minister, although he was not to achieve it until 1831.

John Wright, one of the most skilled draughtsmen of his generation, was renowned for his miniatures and watercolour portraits. He attracted a fashionable clientele and became Miniature Painter to the Duke of Kent. Between 1795-1819 he exhibited at the Royal Academy and was an intimate of the leading portrait painters of the day including Phillips, Hoppner, and Lawrence. His portraits are remarkable for their forcefulness and often give the impression of oil paintings, using vigorous cross-hatching and gouache in the hair and drapery. Examples of his work are in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Portrait Gallery.

The Hon. George Walpole (1758-1835) was a colleague and friend of Grey, himself being M.P. for Derby 1797-1806 and then for Dungarvan 1807-20. He was a supporter of Fox and under-secretary for foreign affairs, 1806-7.
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