This important portrait was not known to Graves and Cronin, nor does it appear in Ellis Waterhouse's monographs of 1941 and 1973. It represents, therefore, an important addition to Reynold's oeuvre, a rich and splendid composition which may be compared in terms of strength of colour, skill in the handling of paint and chiaroscuro with such well known masterpieces as the slightly earlier portrait of Captain Orme in the National Gallery, London.
William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, was the second son of George II. Holding the rank of general, he served at Dettingen in 1743, Culloden in 1746 and later in Holland and Germany.
Reynolds's numerous portraits of the Duke of Cumberland present the art historian with a problem, for they seem to depend upon a mere handful of recorded sittings. In the artist's pocket book for 1758 (in which he noted painting engagements amongst other things) there is an appointment with “The Duke” on 20 February, the time indicated as “10.11”, suggesting a two-hour sitting rather than the hour which was normal. On 6 March we find another appointment, this time for “The Duke of Cumberland”, again at 10 and 11. And on 20 March his name appears again, this time against the numbers “10” and “12” written one above the other in a way that suggests another two-hour sitting. A fourth appointment occurs on 3 April at 10 o'clock, apparently for one hour only.
From what we know of Reynolds's practice we may judge that these appointments would have provided him with enough time to catch a likeness on canvas. It is, however, difficult to point to any particular canvas and say that it is the “prime original” on which the artist was actually at work during those documented sessions. This is a problem that arises with a good many of Reynolds's pictures.
On 28 July 1758 Reynolds made a note in his Pocket Book “To send away Lord Beacham and the Duke”. In the Pocket Book for 1759 there is a memo opposite 10 March: “The Duke to be finished”. In the following year we find The Duke of Cumberland in a list of names written on the memo page opposite the week beginning 7 January, a list probably of pictures ready to send home. In 1761 we find a stray appointment for “The Duke” at the odd time of eleven and a quarter on 3 January and opposite the week beginning 5 January he noted: “A Copy of the Duke”. On 27 July there was an appointment at 11 o'clock, possibly a sitting, or perhaps an appointment to come to the studio to view one or more pictures. On 27 October Reynolds noted “The Duke to be sent to Lady Waldeg[rave]”. In 1762 we find a memo opposite the week beginning 18 October: “Lord Gransby's Copy” and immediately underneath those words: “The Dukes”, these entries apparently written at the same time. Another memo opposite the week beginning 8 February 1763 reminds the artist to “Send the Duke to General Hudson in Sackville Street”. Finally in the Pocket Book for 1764, against 21 August, we find the last reference to Cumberland (who died in the following year): “Mr. Reynolds has promised Col. Keppel to send the D: Cumberlands Picture [illegible word, probably "home"] this Day”. This note is in Reynolds's handwriting.
The artist's ledger indicates payments for several pictures of the Duke. Sometimes after 17 October 1760 but before 27 April 1761 the artist received 20 guineas from General Hudson (Major General Rex Whitworth points out that this is General, later Field Marshall, Studholme Hodgson, sometimes referred to by Cumberland in correspondence as Hudson. He had a room a Cumberland Lodge and his job was to look after Cumberland's famous racing stud). (Perhaps the General Joseph Hudson whose death “in the 83rd year of his age” was recorded in the London Magazine in May 1773) and sometime before 21 April 1763 he received the same sum from a Colonel Grey, in both cases “for the Duke of Cumberland[`s] Picture”. At that time 20 guineas was Reynolds's price for a bust portrait, normally 30 by 25 inches. It is possible, but unlikely, that these were part payments only. Further payments in the Ledgers show that various people were ordering pictures of the Duke. His sister, the Princess Amelia, paid 60 (presumably guineas) between 31 March and 14 September 1764 for a picture which Sir Oliver Millar has suggested may be the whole-length now hanging in Buckingham Palace. Another sister, Mary, Princess of Hesse, Paid 100 (again, presumably guineas) sometime before 29 July 1765. 60 guineas suggests a copy executed in the studio under Reynolds's supervision but not necessarily with his active participation, but 100 was the full price for an original whole-length portrait ordered between 1759 and 1764 (the price went up to 150 guineas in that year).
Other pictures were ordered by officers who had served under the Duke. George Keppel, 3rd Earl of Albemarle, his aide-de-camp at Fontenoy, paid 60 guineas between 31 March and 14 September 1764. His younger brother William, who commanded the first regiment of Foot Guards at Havana after the Earls departure, made two payments to Reynolds, totalling £76.18s, the first after 10 September 1764, the second before 29 July 1765. This picture is in fact referred to in the Pocket Book for 1764 in the memo already mentioned.
The Royal Archives, Cumberland Papers (box 79) 1765 household accounts contain the following entries:
Item Mr. Reynolds Portrait Painter £105
Item Mr. Reynolds Portrait Painter £682-10
Item A Portrait of HRH presented to Colonel Keppel Mr. Reynolds £39-7-6
Major General Rex Whitworth points out that these accounts were the final accounts prepared at his death on 30th October 1765 and so the above amounts may well have been outstanding for some time.
Existing portraits of the Duke by Reynolds range from the magnificent whole-length in Garter robes at Chatsworth (discussed in my entry in the catalogue of the Royal Academy Exhibition, 1986, no. 30) to busts like the one in the National Portrait Gallery (625), catalogued as “studio” by John Kerslake in 1977. The Chatsworth picture is apparently documented by an entry in Reynolds's Ledger but the payment in question clearly concerns a number of pictures and none is specifically named. There is, as we have seen, a basic difficulty about connecting particular payments with particular canvases.
The picture from the Groult collection is no exception:
The Duke is represented outdoors leaning against a tree. He wears a blue coat and breeches and a scarlet waistcoat, all embellished with gold buttons and braid. The sash of the Order of the Garter is visible across his chest and the knee-band is perhaps just visible below his left knee. The composition is an unusual one for Reynolds but it is not unique; his portrait of General William Keppel, now in Lisbon, sets the three-quarter-length figure at the left of the oblong canvas with an architectural view in the distance to the right.
Cumberland is seen from a low eye-level and in the distance to the right we can see the triangular Gothic Tower or Belvedere which was built on Shrubs Hill as part of what has been described as one of the grandest schemes of ornamental landscaping of the time, the Duke's “improvements” to the southern end of Windsor Great Park. The Tower was (as Mrs. Roberts of the Royal Library has informed me) complete by April 1753 and was illustrated by Thomas Sandby as plate 8 in his set of views of the Park, the subscription plate for which is dated December 1754. This engraving seems in fact to have provided the model for Reynolds.
The architect of the tower was Henry Flitcroft, who later (1758) became Comptroller of the Works. The tower still exists, but has been enlarged and incorporated in the building now known as Fort Belvedere.
The Duke is represented, therefore, not in his accustomed military role, but as Ranger of Windsor Great Park. His head matches that which we see in all his other portraits by Reynolds and clearly derives from the likeness established during those documented sittings of 1758 to which I have referred. Close inspection of the paint surface reveals that the figure has been drawn boldly onto the canvas with strong, sweeping lines of paint, a method entirely consistent with what we know about Reynolds's technique for blocking in his figures. Significant pentimenti, or changes of mind, can be seen for instance in the area of the lower edge of the red waistcoat, especially where it is lifted back under the pressure of the sitters's concealed left hand. The careful depiction of the Belvedere in the distance together with the adjacent trees (all of which corresponds closely to Sandby's illustration) would almost certainly have been entrusted to an assistant in Reynolds's studio, but the lively painting of the trees and foliage in the left foreground is wholly in Reynolds's own hand.
One may speculate that the picture may have been painted for the Duke himself, but there seems no early record of it and it does not appear to be listed in the inventory of the Duke's pictures at Cumberland Lodge (I am grateful to Sir Oliver Millar for this information). It is stated to have been bought by M Camille Groult in the mid 19th century, at a time when he was building up a remarkable collection of English Pictures. It was reproduced in the French Periodical L'Illustration, 18 January 1908, no.3386, in an article on the Groult Collection.
David Mannings, 1989
`But of all the tributes and honours paid to him after Culloden, there is no doubt that Cumberland derived the deepest and most lasting pleasure from George II's gift of the post of Ranger and Keeper of Windsor Great Park, together with a not very commodious lodge in considerable disrepair. It was a mark of the King's approval, and as such worth more to a loyal son than all the gold boxes in the kingdom. It was also a mark of personal affection, for the King well knew how Cumberland loved Windsor. And it was to Windsor that the Duke would always return to recuperate when fate and the world turned against him.'
Rex Whitworth, 1992
Sedelmeyer Collection, Paris
M. Camille Groult c. 1850
The Groult Collection, Paris
Sir Joshua Reynolds, mss pocket books for the years 1758-1764.
L'Illustration, The Groult Collection, 18th January 1908, no 3386 (illustrated)
Rex Whitworth, William Augustus Duke of Cumberland, Leo Cooper, London 1992, illustrated on the cover