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Jonathan Richardson the Elder, 1667–1745

Sir. Hans Sloane

Additional Title(s):

Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753)

Materials & Techniques:
Graphite on vellum
Sheet: 5 15/16 × 4 5/16 inches (15.1 × 11 cm)

Inscribed in pen and brown ink, lower center: "Sir Hans Sloane"; in graphite, lower left: "10 Sep 1740"; lower right: "131"; on verso in pen and brown ink, upper right: "Sir Hans Sloane"; in graphite, lower right: "Sir Hans Sloane | 10 Sep 1740"

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
Associated People:
Sloane, Sir Hans, baronet (1660–1753), physician and collector
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IIIF Manifest:

Jonathan Richardson was a highly successful portrait painted, collector, and art theorist, whose pioneering writings were extremely influential throughout Europe, inspiring artists as diverse as Reynolds and Delacroix. Richardson was a keen if not obsessive draftsman, and having amassed a considerable fortune, he devoted much of the last fifteen years of his life to drawing portraits of his friends. Generally executed in graphite on vellum or blue paper, these finished drawings have a vivacity and sensitivity often lacking in Richardson's painted portraits. (Horace Walpole remarked, not without justification, that the artist "drew nothing well below the head and was void of imagination.") More than five hundred of these portrait drawings remained in the family's possession until the death of Richardson's eldest son, Jonathan, in 1771, and it seems likely that the artist made them exclusively for personal, commemorative purposes.
In his Essay on the Theory of Painting (1715), Richardson argued that a "a Portrait is a sort of General History of the Life of the Person is represents, not only to Him who is acquainted with it, but to Many Others." The artist's creation of a private gallery of self-portraits (which depict Richardson at different stages in his life) and portraits of those close to him could be read as a process of constructing a personal history, or visual autobiography. A drawing by Richardson of his beloved son Jonathan in the Center's collection shares the same provenance with cat. 2 back to the eighteenth century, and the two drawings may have been conceived as companion pieces commemorating the affectionate relationship between father and son. All the sitters Richardson drew had personal significance to him, including his friend Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753), the physician and natural historian whose extraordinary collection of books, manuscripts, prints, and coins, formed the basis of the British Museum.

Gillian Forrester

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 16 cat. no. 1

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

English Portrait Drawings & Miniatures (Yale Center for British Art, 1979-12-05 - 1980-02-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Christie's sale catalogue : Important English drawings and watercolours : 4 June 1974, Christie's, p.11, Lot no. 22, Auction Catalogues (YCBA)

Carol Gibson-Wood, Jonathan Richardson : Art Theorist of the English Enlightenment, New Haven and London, pp. 123-124, no. 64, N7483 R535 G53 2000 YCBA [ORBIS]

Carol Gibson-Wood, Jonathan Richardson as a draughtsman, Master Drawings, vol. 32, 1994, p.214, Vertical File V0298 YCBA Also available online via JSTOR Arts & Sciences III [ORBIS]

Patrick Noon, English Portrait Drawings & Miniatures, Yale Center for British Art, 1979, pp. 32-33, no. 33, NC772 N66+ (Wall Shelf) (YCBA) [YCBA]

Scott Wilcox, Line of beauty : British drawings and watercolors of the eighteenth century, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 16, no. 1, NC228 W53 2001 (YCBA) [YCBA]

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