William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708-1778) Prime Minister
About the work
This half-length portrait of former Prime Minister William Pitt, first Earl of Chatham is signed by the artist William Hoare. Chatham wears a rich brown velvet suit and white cravat. There are at least six versions of a larger, three-quarter length version of this portrait, none of which stand out as markedly superior. This may indicate that the original painting is now lost. A chalk drawing of Chatham’s face, perhaps used as a pattern for studio versions of the painting, passed by descent through the artist’s family.
Hoare was based in Bath, where he ran a successful studio. Chatham visited Bath to recuperate from gout in 1854 and this was probably the time he sat to Hoare for his portrait. Not only were some of the many versions of the portrait painted in Hoare’s studio, under the painter’s supervision, but others were produced by artists outside the studio. The portrait of Chatham was also the basis for printed portraits, both lifelike and satirical.
About the artist
William Hoare produced portraits in both oil and pastel. He was based in Bath and it was there he achieved most success. He studied in London in the 1720s and in 1728 travelled to Italy, where he remained for about a decade. There he made contact with Grand Tourists and established the foundations of patronage which continued to serve him well on his return to England. He settled in Bath in the late 1730s, where there was a great demand for portraits. He was involved in the early discussions which eventually led to the creation of the Royal Academy of Art in London in 1768 and George III added Hoare’s name as a founding member of the Academy. Hoare enjoyed a successful career until his death in 1792.
- William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham (1708-1778) Prime Minister
- Oil on canvas
- height: 77.20 cm, width: 64.30 cm
- Purchased from Sotheby's, 15 April 1953
- lower l above sleeve: Wm. Hoare / pinxit
- Collection of political correspondent and conservative agent Louis Henry Hayter (1865-1953) of Chatham House, Wembdon, near Bridgwater, Somerset; by whose executors sold through Sotheby's, London, ‘Modern Drawings and Paintings’ sale, on 15 April 1953 (Lot 40); from which sale purchased by Colnalghi, London; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works on 17 April 1953
- GAC number