Portrait of Thomas Hollis

Portrait of Thomas Hollis
Portrait of Thomas Hollis
Portrait of Thomas Hollis
Harvard Art Museums/Fogg Museum, Harvard University Portrait Collection, Gift of Mrs Donald F Hyde to the Harvard College Library, HNA98/Photo: Katya Kallsen, President and Fellows of Harvard College
title=Credit line
Richard Wilson (1713/14-1782)
Portrait of Thomas Hollis
Oil on canvas
Metric: 56.5 x 44.4 cm
Imperial: 22 1/4 x 17 1/2 in.
Accession Number
Wilson Online Reference
The sitter is shown bust-length with a ruddy face wearing a pale grey coat, trimmed with gold braid, a white stock and white tie-wig
'A gentleman who was Chaplain at Leghorn'; Sir John Dick, British Consul at Leghorn; given to Thomas Jenkins, Rome; sent to Thomas Brand Hollis, 1776; inherited by the Revd John Disney, The Hyde, Ingatestone, Essex; his son, Edgar Norton Disney, thence by descent; Sotheby's 8 March 1950 (134), bt Colnaghi for Harvard University through the generosity of Mrs Donald F. Hyde
Unsigned, no inscription
Verso inscriptions
Lower right corner of stretcher, handwritten in ink: 14
Old handwritten labels in white:
[1] Verso of canvas: Thomas Hollis | (Painted by R. Wilson at Rome 1752.) | Died Jan: 1, 1774.
[2] Verso of stretcher in the same hand: Edgar Norton Disney 1887
Thomas Hollis (1720-1774) FRS, FSA, was a traveller and dilettante of republican sympathies. He was trained in public service and spent the years from 1740 to 1748 practising law in England. He then toured Europe twice (1748-49 and 1750-53), mixing with French philosophes and Italian artists, including Piranesi. He was an admirer of Cromwell, Milton and Algernon Sidney, an ardent advocate of colonial rights and one of the architects of American independence. He was also a major collector of books, medals, engravings and classical antiques, as well as a patron of Canaletto, Cipriani and Wilson. He presented books to the libraries of Harvard, Berne and Zurich universities.
Related Works by Other Artists
Joseph Wilton Bust of Thomas Hollis, marble, c.1760. National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 6946)
Critical commentary
As W.G. Constable noted, stylistically, the portrait is wholly characteristic of Wilson in its broad, crisp handling and feeling for light.
Previous Cat/Ref Nos
Image No.: 74395
J. Disney, Memoirs of Thomas Brand-Hollis, 1808; Catalogue of the Collection of the Revd. John Disney, privately printed, 1809, p. 23; Whitley 1700-1799, vol. 1, p. 118; W.G. Constable, 'Notes: A Portrait of Thomas Hollis by Richard Wilson', Harvard Library Bulletin, vol. 5, no. 2, Spring 1951, pp. 242-46; Ford, 1952, pp. 308-11, fig. 10; WGC, p. 156, pl. 9; Sutton & Clements 1968, vol. 2, p. 8, fig. 9; W.H. Bond Thomas Hollis of Lincoln's Inn - A Whig and his Books, 1990, pp. 12-13; D. Wilson, 'A Bust of Thomas Hollis by Joseph Wilton RA: Sitter and Artist revisited', The British Art Journal, vol. 5, no. 3, Winter 2004, pp. 4-26; D. Wilson, 'Neo-neoclassicism: How Wilton's Bust of Hollis launched David Hicks', Sculpture Journal , vol. 22.1, 2013, pp. 143-48; Wilson and Europe 2014, pp. 8, 32-33 n.62, 74-75 (fig.63), 76-77, 87 n. 70, 190, 193, 210; J.Coutu, Then and Now: Collecting and Classicism in Eighteenth-Century England, 2015, pp. 166-67
Link to WG Constable Archive Record
More Information
This is the only known portrait painted by Wilson in Rome, though he made some portrait drawings there. According to the Disney catalogue, 'This picture was the property of a gentleman who was Chaplain at Leghorn. After his death it was purchased by Sir John Dick, Consul there and given by him to Mr Jenkins of Rome, who sent it as a present to Mr Brand-Hollis in 1776.' Hollis is known to have been a friend of Thomas Jenkins who used him as an agent and interested himself in Jenkins's affairs in England, after his return there in 1753.
Dimensions framed: 73.4 x 70 cm (28 1/2 x 24 x 2 1/2 in.)