George Canning (1770-1827) Prime Minister

  • About the work
    Country: UK
    City: London
    Place: Government Art Collection

    The original portrait, on which this proof mezzotint is based, was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1813. The Government Art Collection also includes a version engraved by William Ward (GAC 5631), issued in 1813 by publisher W. Sams of St James’s Street, London. Lettering on Ward’s mezzotint indicates that it was made ‘from an original in the Possession of Jno. Drinkwater Junr. Esq, of Liverpool.’ Ward’s print was still being advertised by Sams in March 1827. However, by August that year Sams was advertising a new version of the print engraved by William Brett. The advertisement in the ‘Morning Post’ read:

    ‘THE RIGHT HONOURABLE GEORGE CANNING. – A PORTRAIT of this lamented Statesman, in the attitude of addressing an assembly, recently engraved by Brett, from a celebrated painting by Stewardson, in the possession of the Corporation of Liverpool, is published by Mr. Sams, 1, St. James’s-street. Proof Impressions (of which very few remain) on guinea, Prints 12s.’

    The whereabouts of the original painting, presumably presented to the Corporation of Liverpool by Drinkwater, is now unknown. Stipple engravings after the portrait were engraved by printmakers William Holl, Robinson and others.

  • About the artist
    Portrait painter Thomas Stewardson was the son of John and Anne Stewardson, members of a Quaker family at Ullsmoor, who lived in Kendal, Westmorland. Stewardson initially worked as an apprentice to a painter named John Fothergill, in Kendal, before studying under George Romney in the same town. He later moved to London and, in 1803, began exhibiting at the Royal Academy. He may have studied briefly with John Opie in London, where he was influenced by the portraits of Sir Thomas Lawrence. As well as numerous portraits, his works also include exotic, Orientalist subjects.
    It has been suggested that William Brett began as a pupil or assistant to painter and printmaker Samuel William Reynolds, because a mezzotint after a portrait by Thomas Foster of 1824 is signed jointly by Reynolds and Brett. Independently Brett produced mezzotint prints after portraits by John Simpson and Sir Thomas Lawrence. However, his career was cut short (his works date from 1824 to 1828) by his premature death. A brief paragraph in the ‘Morning Chronicle’ of 20 February 1828 reported that he died at the age of 25, at his parents’ home, after ‘a long and painful illness’. A mezzotint engraved by both Brett and Samuel Cousins of 1828, engraved after a portrait by William Robinson, may have been completed by Cousins after Brett’s death.
  • Explore
    Canning, George
    Materials & Techniques
  • Details
    George Canning (1770-1827) Prime Minister
    Purchased from Grosvenor Prints, April 1983
    GAC number