A portrait by John Hoppner, RA of Sir John Osborn, Bt., of Chicksands Priory, Bedfordshire, shown half-length, wearing a blue coat with a red lined collar and white neck cloth.
By descent in the family of the sitter H.L. Smyth Esq. With Howard Young Galleries, New York, by 1930 Richard Beatty Mellon (1858–1933), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Thence by family descent until given to The Westmoreland County Museum of Art, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, in 1966 By whom sold, London, Sotheby's, 15 November 1989, lot 55.
Height: 29.92 in (76 cm) Width: 25.00 in (63.5 cm)
The sitter of this portrait, Sir John Osborn, was the son of General Sir George Osborn, BT (1742-1818), who fought in the American Revolutionary War and served as the Groom of the Bedchamber to George III. Osborn’s grandfather was Sir Danvers Osborn, 3rd BT, who served as Governor of New York in 1753.
Sir John attended Oxford University and received a Doctorate of Civil Law. He married August Frederica Louis Valentia, daughter of Sir Charles Davers, BT, in 1809. He succeeded his father as fifth baronet in 1818, and he served as Colonel of the Bedfordshire Militia. He served as a member of parliament for various districts between 1807 and 1824.
Hoppner painted portraits of Sir John’s father and stepmother, Lady Heneage Osborn. These two paintings remained in the collection of Sir Algernon Osborn, BT, at the family seat at Chicksands Priory, Bedforshrie, as of the early twentieth century. Sir George Osborn is shown in his general’s uniform while his wife is shown in a black bodice with her hair ‘a la Pompadour.’
Hoppner was a highly regarded portrait artist working in the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. His parents were German and Hoppner had the opportunity to grow up in the Royal court under the eye of George III. There was a rumour that Hoppner was the son of George III, a rumour that Hoppner was happy to encourage throughout his lifetime. Hoppner received an education from John Chamberlaine, keeper of the royal drawings, and later entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1775. He subsequently received medals from the Academy in 1778 and 1782.
Hoppner married Phoebe, daughter of an American named Mr. Wright. He established his studio in Charles Street between Haymarket and St. James's Square. In 1784, he worked for Queen Charlotte, and by 1789 he became Portrait Painter for the Prince of Wales and achieved the status of Principal Painter in 1793.
Despite an early affinity for landscape, Hoppner soon turned to portrait painting given the lucrative commissions and opportunities it afforded. Thomas Lawrence and Thomas Beechey became his greatest contemporary rivals.
Apollo, March 1930, ill. p. 218.
'Fine English Art Exhibition opens in San Francisco', American Art News, 27 May 1933, ill. p. 3.
P.A. Chew (ed.), The Permanent Collection. The Westmoreland County Museum of Art, Greensburg 1978, p. 164, cat. no. 298.