George Macartney, 1st Earl Macartney (1737-1806) diplomat and colonial governor; 1st British Ambassador to China

Ozias Humphry (1742 - 1810)

Pastel on paper, laid on canvas

  • About the work
    Country: China
    City: Beijing
    Place: British Embassy

    George Macartney, diplomat and governor, is remembered primarily for his missions to China and India. He was knighted and appointed envoy-extraordinary to Russia in 1764 and chief secretary to the Irish viceroy, Lord Townshend, in 1769. Following a second knighthood of the Bath in 1772 he was named governor of Grenada, Tobago and the Grenadines in 1775. The following year he was created Baron Macartney of Lissanoure in the Irish peerage. He was appointed governor of Madras in 1781 and was recommended as successor to Warren Hastings as governor-general in 1785, a position which he declined. The posting for which he is most remembered arrived in 1792 in the form of an embassy to Peking, although his hopes for the establishment of permanent British diplomatic presence in Peking did not come to fruition. He was created a viscount in the Irish peerage before his departure and was raised to an earl on his return in 1794. His later appointments include missions to Verona to the exiled French king in 1795, and governorship of the Cape.

    This, or a version of this work, is recorded as being in a private colletion in the USA in 1967. An engraving of the portrait made by Joseph Singleton and published by bookseller John Sewell, was issued on 25 June 1796.

  • About the artist
    Ozias Humphry studied at Shipley's Academy in London before moving to Bath in 1760 to work under the miniaturist Samuel Collins. He exhibited miniatures at the Society of Artists from 1765 to 1771, after which impaired eyesight forced him to move to larger-scale works. During the 1770s he travelled in Italy with George Romney. In 1785 he visited India and in 1792 was appointed Portrait Painter in Crayons to the King.
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  • Details
    George Macartney, 1st Earl Macartney (1737-1806) diplomat and colonial governor; 1st British Ambassador to China
    Pastel on paper, laid on canvas
    height: 61.00 cm, width: 51.00 cm
    Purchased from Sotheby's, 27 November 2003
    'The Property of a Lady'; by whom sold through Sotheby's, London, 'The British Sale: Paintings & Watercolours', on 27 November 2003 (Lot 219, with illuminated manuscript); from which sale purchased by the Government Art Collection
    GAC number