Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford (1676-1745)

  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Downing Street
  • About the artist
    Jean Baptiste van Loo was born in Aix-en-Provence to a family of Flemish painters. He worked in the south of France until 1714, when he travelled to northern Italy and Rome, and settled in Paris in 1720. While in Paris, he established himself as a portrait painter in the circle of the Regent, Philippe d'Orléans, and also painted a portrait of Louis XV. In 1731, he became a member of the Académie Royale. In 1737, van Loo moved to England, where he was patronised by Prime Minister Robert Walpole. In 1742, after a year’s ill-health, van Loo returned to Aix and his later life was divided between Paris and Aix. Today, his works are in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Louvre, Paris; and the Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
    James Watson was born in Dublin and initially trained at the Dublin Society. He later travelled to London, probably as a pupil of Irish printmaker James Macardell. Watson exhibited as a mezzotint engraver at the Society of Artists (1762-75), later becoming a fellow and, in 1770, the Director. After Macardell’s death in 1765, he inherited the role of principal engraver to Reynolds. He also engraved works by Gainsborough, Cotes, van Dyck, Rubens and others. From c.1762 he published his own works. He was able to enter semi-retirement by 1778 and, during his career of some 30 years, produced around 200 plates, most of which were portraits. He died in 1790 leaving a daughter, Caroline (also an engraver), and a son, James Edmund (a lawyer).
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    Walpole, Robert, 1st Earl of Orford
    Materials & Techniques
  • Details
    Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Orford (1676-1745)
    1 January 1788
    Bequeathed by Sir Edward Walter Hamilton, 1908
    Bequeathed to 10 Downing Street by Sir Edward Walter Hamilton, 1908
    GAC number