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Creator:
Sir Joshua Reynolds RA, 1723–1792, British
Title:

Charles Stanhope, third Earl of Harrington and Marcus Richard Fitzroy Thomas

Former Title(s):

Charles Stanhope, third Earl of Harrington

Portrait of a Nobleman [1783, Royal Academy of Arts, London, exhibition catalogue]

Date:
1782
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Support (PTG): 93 x 56 inches (236.2 x 142.2 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Inscribed, lower left: "Charles Earl of Harrington"

Signed lower right: "S. J. Reynolds. Pinx."

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1977.14.69
Classification:
Paintings
Collection:
Paintings and Sculpture
Subject Terms:
armor | battle | boy | clouds | colonel | costume | earl | helmet | light | man | portrait | servant | shine | sky | war
Associated People:
Stanhope, Charles, third earl of Harrington (1753–1829), army officer
Thomas, Marcus Richard Fitzroy
Access:
Not on view
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:5006
Export:
XML
IIIF Manifest:
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Charles Stanhope (1753–1829) served under General John Burgoyne in the American Revolutionary War. Although he had been involved in the embarrassing British defeat at the Battle of Saratoga, he was exonerated of any guilt in the action and, on his return to England in 1782, was promoted to colonel and made an aide-de-camp to the king. It is likely that he commissioned this portrait to commemorate both his rise in military rank and his succession, while he was in America, to the title of third Earl of Harrington. There is no record, however, of the young black man who is shown holding Stanhope’s helmet. When the painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1783 as Portrait of a Nobleman, critics likewise remained silent about his presence. Whether Stanhope specifically requested his inclusion is unknown. He may represent a member of Stanhope’s regiment or household. Alternatively, he may have been modeled on somebody known to Reynolds.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016



Charles Stanhope (1753–1829) served with British forces in North America and the Caribbean during the American War of Independence. In 1780, his regiment arrived in Jamaica to defend Britain’s largest slave colony against French invasion. Stanhope was accompanied by his wife, Jane, who was the stepdaughter of a prominent Caribbean plantation owner. Soon after their return to England in 1782, Stanhope sat for Reynolds. There is no record of the young man who is shown here holding Stanhope’s helmet. When the painting was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1783 as "Portrait of a Nobleman", critics likewise remained silent about his presence.

This grand full-length portrait is very close to a painting by Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659–1743), depicting the King of Poland with a black page. Reynolds’s emulation of Rigaud is one reason why Stanhope is depicted in archaic armor. It may also partly account for the presence of the black servant. Whether Stanhope specifically commissioned his inclusion, however, is unknown. He may represent a member of Stanhope’s regiment or household. Alternatively, he may have been modeled on somebody known to Reynolds.



Gallery label for Figures of Empire: Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain (Yale Center for British Art, 2014-10-02 - 2014-12-14)



Charles Stanhope (1753-1829) served under General John Burgoyne in the disastrous Hudson Valley campaign of 1777 during the American War of Independence. Although he had been deeply involved in the embarrassing British defeat at the Battle of Saratoga, Lord Harrington was exonerated of any responsibility for the failure. After a second and brief period of active service in Jamaica, during which many of his troops died of fever, Harrington was in the conventional manner promoted to the rank of colonel, then appointed aide-de-camp to the king. It is likely that he commissioned this portrait from Reynolds to commemorate his rise in military rank, his succession to his father's earldom, and his marriage to Jane Fleming, who later joined her husband in the royal household as a lady of the bedchamber to Queen Charlotte. One of Reynolds's several portraits of Lady Harrington is in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery.

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2005
This was the only full-length portrait Reynolds exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1783, a year in which his contribution to the annual exhibition was affected both in size and reception by his having suffered a paralytic stroke in November 1782. Although his recovery was rapid, critics were quick to find evidence of his declining health in his work. This painting, for instance, underwent close scrutiny from visitors to the exhibition, despite the fact that much had been completed well before his stroke, the sittings having taken place in the summer of 1782. It elicited fervent and diverse reactions. One critic proclaimed in the London Courant:

[The] portrait, No. 193, of Lord Harrington (as we hear) is the worst production we have seen of Sir Joshua's; the head is a frightful dirty daubing; the figure is badly drawn-on the whole it looks like a devil hunted, escaping from the infernal regions, which appear too hot to hold him.

An ardent supporter retorted:

[I] was both surprised and shocked at a paragraph in the "London Courant" on Friday-a criticism on one of the finest productions of Sir Joshua Reynolds! who has long shone the brightest luminary of the heaven-born of painting…and must the greatest ornament of the present Exhibition, the portrait of Lord Harrington, be fixed on as a proper object on which to vent all his "proud spite and burning envy"?

Another critic praised the portrait as:

a noble, striking, and capital whole length of Lord Harrington in armour, in which the dignity of the hero is agreeably softened by the elegance of the gentleman. The attitude is bold, animated, and natural.

The same writer did remark, nonetheless, on the presence of "a sort of brown tinge [that] pervades the armour, which gives an unfinished appearance to the whole."

Charles Stanhope, the eldest son of the rakish William, 2nd Earl of Harrington, returned to England in the spring of 1782 from America, where he had served under General John Burgoyne in the American Revolutionary War. Although he had been deeply involved in the embarrassment of the decisive British defeat at the Battle of Saratoga, Harrington was exonerated of any guilt in the action; in fact, on his return to England he was promoted to colonel and an aide-de-camp to the king. It is likely that he commissioned this portrait to commemorate both his rise in military rank and his succession to the earldom, an event that had taken place while he had been in America.

The presence of the black slave may allude to the sitter's military service in Jamaica (where, before his return to England, he had formed a regiment intended to protect the island from an expected attack from the French); but it is first and foremost a direct tribute to seventeenth-century conventions of full-length portraiture, particularly those of van Dyck, who often included black servants in his portraits. Reynolds's debt to van Dyck in this portrait is manifest and multifold: the striding posture of Harrington, his powerful and aspiring gaze, and the battle raging in the hazy background all find their sources among van Dyck's portraits of Caroline military figures; like many of these men, Harrington does not wear his contemporary uniform but antiquated armor that romantically likens him to a legendary hero.

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 104, no. 38, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)
Commissioned by Charles Stanhope, third Earl of Harrington (1753-1829) from Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), the artist, in 1782; by descent to his son Charles Stanhope, fourth Earl of Harrington (1780-1851); by descent to his brother, Leicester Fitzgerald Charles Stanhope, fifth Earl of Harrington (1784-1862); by descent to his son, Sidney Seymour Hide Stanhope, sixth Earl of Harrington (1845–1866); by descent to his first cousin Charles Wyndham Stanhope, seventh Earl of Harrington (1809-1881); by descent to his son Charles Stanhope, eighth Earl of Harrington (1844-1917); by descent to his brother Dudley Henry Eden Stanhope, ninth Earl of Harrington (1859-1928); by descent to his son Charles Stanhope, tenth Earl of Harrington (1887-1929); by descent to his son William Stanhope, eleventh Earl of Harrington (1922-2009); possibly purchased by Thomas Agnew & Sons, Sotheby’s, London, November 23, 1966 (lot 76, “Portrait of Charles, 3rd Earl of Harrington, full-length, wearing armour, attended by a black page boy, a battle in the distance”) [a]; purchased by Paul Mellon, December 1967; by whom gifted to the Yale Center for British Art, December 1977.

Citations:
[a] Sotheby’s & Co. November 23, 1966. Catalogue of Fine eighteenth and nineteenth century paintings, part I.

David Bindman, Am I not a man and a brother?, British art and slavery in the eighteenth century , 1994, pp. 71-72, fig. 29, V 0374 (YCBA)

David Bindman, Roubiliac and the Eighteenth-Century Monument : Sculpture as Theatre, , The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven and London, 1995, p. 141, NJ18 R764 A12 B55 1995 (YCBA)

David Bindman, The Image of the Black in Western Art : From the " Age of Discovery" to the Age of Abolition, , vol. 3, part 3, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 2010, pp. 144, 145, fig. 137, N8217.B535 I42 2010+ (YCBA) Citations are to Vol. 3, Part 3

British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, no. 182, April 1977, pp. 245, 247-8, fig. 18, N5220 M552 A7 1977 OVERSIZE (YCBA) Published as April 1977 issue of Apollo; all of the articles may also be found in bound Apollo Volume [N1 A54 105:2 +]

Malcolm Cormack, A Concise Catalogue of Paintings in the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1985, pp. 184, 185, N590.2 A83 (YCBA)

Exhibition at the Royal Academy, Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser, May 1783, p.3, Film S1460 (SML Microfilm)

Figures of Empire : Slavery and Portraiture in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Britain, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2014, pp. 26-27, 43, fig.10, V 2556 (YCBA)

Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 57, ND466 G67 (YCBA)

Algernon Graves, A history of the works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., Henry Graves & Co., London, UK, 1899, p. 928 ( v. 2), NJ18 R36 G73 OVERSIZE (YCBA) Also available on Microfiche: Fiche B6 (YCBA)

Mark Hallett, Reynolds : portraiture in action, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, 2014, p. 358, fig. no. 344, NJ18.R36 H35 2014 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Erica James, Commentary on Charles Stanhope, Third Earl of Harrington by Joshua Reynolds, [ Website ] , Yale Center for British Art, Accessed 11/25/15, 27.06 minutes, Available Online http://interactive.britishart.yale.edu/slavery-and-portraiture/326/commentary-by-erica-james

Titus Kaphar, Commentary on Charles Stanhope, Third Earl of Harrington, by Joshua Reynolds, [ Website ] , Yale Center for British Art, Accessed 11/24/15, 34:43 minutes, Available Online http://interactive.britishart.yale.edu/slavery-and-portraiture/325/commentary-by-titus-kaphar

Hew Locke, Commentary on Charles Stanhope, Third Earl of Harrington, by Joshua Reynolds, [ Website ] , Yale Center for British Art, Accessed 11/25/15, 20.09 minutes, Available online http://interactive.britishart.yale.edu/slavery-and-portraiture/339/commentary-by-hew-locke

David Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, a complete catalogue of his paintings , Yale University Press, New Haven, 2000, v. 1, p. 431; v. 2, p. 529, no.. 1692, fig. 1393, NJ18 R36 A12 M35 2000 OVERSIZE (YCBA)

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, p. 104, no. 38, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 3, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA)

Slavery and Portraiture in 18th-century Atlantic Britain, [ Website ] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2015, Available Online https://interactive.britishart.yale.edu/slavery-and-portraiture/

Malcolm Warner, Great British paintings from American collections, Holbein to Hockney , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, p. 6, fig. 4, ND464 W27 2001 (YCBA)

Ellis Waterhouse, An Impressive Panorama of British Portraiture, Apollo, v. 105, no. 182, April 1977, pp. 245, 247-8, fig. 18, N1 A54 + (YCBA) Another copy of this article may be found in a separately bound and catalogued copy of this issue located on the Mellon Shelf [call number : N5220 M552 A7 1977 + (YCBA)]

Ellis Waterhouse, Reynolds, Phaidon, New York, NY, 1973, pl. 102, NJ18 R36 W37 1973 + (YCBA)

William III, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2011, p. 22, V2340

John Wilmerding, In honor of Paul Mellon, collector and benefactor, Essays , National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC & Hanover, NH, 1986, pp. 10, 12, fig. 2, N7442.2 M455 1986 (YCBA)

Yale Center for British Art, Selected paintings, drawings & books, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1977, p. 32, N590.2 A82 (YCBA)

Yale Center for British Art, Selected paintings, drawings & books, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 1977, p. 32, 715 Y18 977b (YCBA)


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