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Caleb Whitefoord, FRS FSA (1734-1810), Wit and Satirical Poet

after Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA (Plympton 1723 - London 1792)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1770 - 1799

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

394 x 330 mm

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Collection

Osterley Park and House, London (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Osterley Park, London, London and South East, National Trust

NT 771255

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Caleb Whiteford, FRS FSA (1734-1810) after Sir Joshua Reynolds (Plympton 1723 - London 1792). A head-and-shoulders portrait, head turned to left, gazing to the left. Wearing brown jacket, yellow waistcoat and white cravat. Glazed canvas. Caleb Whitefoord FRS FSA (1734-1810) began his career as a wine merchant. As well as being a friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds, he became a neighbour and friend of the scientist, statesman and philosopher Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), resulting in his acting as an intermediary between the United States and Britain during the peace negotiations of 1782-3. He also contributed political essays and comments, often wittily satirical, to newspapers. His collection of paintings was sold 4-5 May 1810. Acquired by the Reverend Alexander Dyce for his collection of eminent men of letters and other worthies, the painting was listed under the 'painters unknown' in the 1874 Dyce catalogue. An almost identical version is in the National Portrait Gallery (catalogued as studio of Reynolds and dated to 1773-4, feigned oval 74.3 x 62.2 cm, museum number NPG 1400). Both works are presumably studio repetitions of the portrait exhibited by Reynolds at the Royal Academy in 1775 (no. 236 Caleb Whitefoord, private collection), listed in the artist's account book in October 1775 with a payment from 'Mr. Whitford' of £36-15-0, or 35 guineas, the usual cost of a bust or the 'three-quarter' (that is, a canvas measuring about three quarters of a yard, or 27 inches high) by Reynolds at this time (see Malcolm Cormack 'The ledgers of Sir Joshua Reynolds', Walpole Society XLII, 1968-70, p.166). Other portraits of Whitefoord include a Reynolds of 1782 once owned by Charles Whitefoord and engraved in mezzotint by T. Jones in 1793 (Museum number 24252), an engraving by S.W.Reynolds of 1795 (impression in the V&A also from the Dyce Bequest, Dyce 3071), a sketch by George Dance of July, 1795 and etched by William Daniell (impression in the British Museum), an anonymous painting of about 1800 in the Royal Society of Arts, a drawing by Richard Cosway which was stipple engraved by P. Conde for the European Magazine in 1810 (impression in the V&A), and the Gilbert Stuart of 1782 in the Montclair Art Museum, New Jersey, USA. Whiteford also appears in James Gillray's 1807 print The Connoisseurs (impression and preliminary drawings at the V&A) and David Wilkies painting of 1815 The Letter of Introduction (National Gallery of Scotland). In their catalogue of Reynolds, Mannings and Postle list only one portrait of Caleb Whiteford by the artist (Private collection, Mannings and Postle cat. 1876, plate 1090). Although smaller in scale, being only a bust portrait, a comparison of these portraits suggests that Dyce 68 is related to catalogue 1876 in the Mannings and Postle catalogue. In both these portraits the artist shows Caleb Whiteford in the same posture, turning to look over his right shoulder. The light yellow waistcoat, edged with gold braid, is unbuttoned to reveal the lace cravat underneath. In both these portraits the sitter is shown without a wig. Mannings and postle note in their entry on catalogue 1876 that there are numerous copies after this portrait, however they do not list the Dyce 68 as one of these copies. It is possible that this is a smaller studio copy of the portrait painted in the early 1770s. [From V&A description]

Provenance

On loan from V&A (Dyce Bequest)

Makers and roles

after Sir Joshua Reynolds PRA (Plympton 1723 - London 1792), artist

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