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Portrait of a British Naval Captain
The Trustees of Reservations, Archives & Research Center, Castle Hill, Greater Boston
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Portrait of a British Naval Captain
Dated 1748
Oil on canvas
127 x 101.6 cm
50 1/2 x 40 in.
P23
The Revd Henry Stewart Gladstone, Hazelwood, Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, whose wife was a member of the Gage family; with Casson Galleries, Boston, USA; 1930, bt by Henry Lee Shattock (1879-1971) Boston and Brookline Mass.; passed to his estate 1983; given to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass., 12 January 1983 in memory of the late Morris Gray (1983.36); deaccessioned by the Museum for the Benefit of the Collections Fund and sold at Northeast Auctions, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA, 19 August 2012; bt by The Trustees of Reservations for the Crane Estate, Castle Hill, Boston
Signed on cannon, lower left: R Wilson f. | 1748 (?)
Constable dismissed the identification of the sitter as General Thomas Gage, Commander-in-Chief in America, 1763-72, noting that his features differ from those of the portrait by J.S. Copley (c.1768, Yale Center for British Art) and he is wearing a full-dress British naval captain's uniform of 1748-67. He also pointed out that the naval historian Sir Geoffrey Callender's (1875-1946) suggestion of John Gage, promoted captain for his valour in the unsuccessful attack on La Guaira in 1743, was unsatisfactory since according to one source, the latter died in the West Indies the same year (J. Charnock, Biographia Navalis, vol. 5, 1797, p. 247). Constable later argued that a more suitable candidate would be Temple West (1713-57), who was the nephew by marriage of Sir Thomas Lyttelton, a known patron of Wilson. West became Vice Admiral of the Blue in 1756 and at 35 in 1748, was the right age. (Constable 1954, p. 140).
1983.36
WGC, p. 153, pl. 4b