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Hugh Douglas Hamilton, 1739–1808, British

Portrait of a Divine

Additional Title(s):

Revd. Philip Wodehouse, Prebendary of Norwich

after 1791
Pastel, black chalk, white chalk, and graphite on medium, moderately textured, cream laid paper
Sheet (oval): 10 1/2 × 8 1/2 inches (26.7 × 21.6 cm)

Inscribed on verso in graphite, lower center: "Hamilton, H.D. | Port- of a Divine in Black | LGD 62/6/14/41 PM #4511"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
man | portrait | profile | reverend
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The Irish artist Hugh Douglas Hamilton trained at the Dublin Society Drawing School, where he showed considerable talent as a draftsman. By 1757 he was practicing successfully as a portraitist in crayons, producing attractive pastels in a hallmark oval format. According to his friend Thomas Mulvany, Hamilton's drawings were "laid in with very few colours, the prevailing tone of which was grey, and then finished with red and black chalk. They were marked with great skill and truth, the features, particularly, the eyes, were expressed with great feeling; but…they had all the appearance of having been hurried rather than neglected." As Mulvany observed, Hamilton's early pastels often seemed unfinished and indicate that the artist was already working under great pressures to fulfill the demands of his large clientele. In 1764 Hamilton moved to London, where he enlarged his repertoire to include large full-length pastel portraits rivaling those of Daniel Gardner (see cat. 9) His portrait practice was so successful that "he could scarcely execute all the orders that came in upon him," but like many of his contemporaries, Hamilton resented the drudgery of portraiture, and in 1779 he went to Rome to pursue his cherished ambition of becoming a history painter. He remained there for thirteen years, but economic necessity forced him to return reluctantly to Dublin (exile for one who truly loves art," Hamilton observed bitterly) and resumed his portrait practice. Hamilton abandoned pastels in 1793. The ecclesiastical subject of cat. 11 has not been identified, nor has the drawing been securely dated, but in execution it is similar to portraits known to have been produced in London in the 1770s.

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