The Hon. Frederick North
29 Aug 1780 - 14 Jan 1867
Ingres entered the studio of Jacques-Louis David in 1797 and became his most brilliant pupil. He was the artist who not only championed but also revitalised the classical tradition in the 19th century. History painting was Ingres’s principal aim but he was slow to achieve recognition. Although, like his teacher David, he looked down on portraiture as a lower form of art, he is arguably seen at his best in some of the greatest portraits ever painted.
Ingres went to Italy in 1806 as recipient of the Prix de Rome, and worked in that city until 1820. Unable to escape from what he regarded as the artistic drudgery of portraiture, he was forced to accept it as a ready source of income to support himself and his wife, and while in Italy he made hundreds of portrait drawings. It must be said, however, that the practice of drawing was of primary importance to all his artistic endeavours.
Following the fall of Napoleon in 1815, Ingres found an enthusiastic clientele among the English tourists in Rome, who had flocked back to the city liberated from French rule. One tourist after another beat a path to his door wanting their portrait drawn. The first Englishman to sit to Ingres was Frederick North (1766–1827), 5th Earl of Guilford (and youngest son of Lord North, prime minister to George III), an engaging eccentric portrayed with a penetrating eye for his quickness of mind.
A passionate philhellene and linguist, North travelled widely and lived much of his life abroad. After a stint as governor- general of Ceylon (1798–1805), he led the campaign to establish the Ionian University at Corfu, becoming its first chancellor in 1824. When North retired to London a few years later, he amused his friends by going about in academic robes, or turning up to dinner wearing the vestments of an archbishop of the Orthodox church, to which he was a convert.
Evidently impressed by Ingres’s portrait, which displays a wonderfully spare but lively and descriptive pencil line, North soon introduced other members of his family to the artist: portraits of North’s sister, Lady Glenbervie, her husband, Lord Glenbervie, and their son, Frederick Sylvester North Douglas, followed. It is said that North wanted to take the artist back with him to England and set him up as a portrait draughtsman, but Ingres declined.
The four pencil drawings were taken home by the English sitters, and remained in the family until the 20th century, eventually going to the writer Sacheverell Sitwell. The group was dispersed at Sitwell’s sale at Sotheby’s in 1964. The portrait of North was acquired by James Fairfax in 1965 and later given by him to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, while the remaining drawings entered private collections in the United States. The group remains intact, however, in the form of a large lithograph attributed to Ingres (AGNSW 210.2007). The print, which reproduces all four sitters on the same stone, was printed in London in 1820 or 1821, and was probably intended to illustrate Lord Glenbervie’s memoirs.
Peter Raissis, Prints & drawings Europe 1500–1900, 2014
The Hon. Frederick North (later Earl of Guildford)
21.5 x 16.8 cm sheet; 47.0 x 41.0 x 1.7 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.l., pencil "Ingres...". Not dated.
Gift of James Fairfax AC 1992
Not on display
Shown in 6 exhibitions
French and English drawings 1800-1965, Agnew's, London, London, 15 Jun 1965–10 Jul 1965
The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Apr 1992–14 Jun 1992
Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994
Michelangelo to Matisse: Drawing the figure, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Nov 1999–27 Feb 2000
The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Apr 2003–20 Jul 2003
European prints and drawings 1500-1900, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Aug 2014–02 Nov 2014
Referenced in 19 publications
Edmund Capon, Great philanthropists on trial : the art of the bequest, 'The James Fairfax collection', pp 126-135, Melbourne, 2006, p 131, col illus p 133. fig 5
Brinsley Ford, The Burlington Magazine, '"Ingres" portrait drawings of English people at Rome 1806-1820', pp 3-13, London, Jul 1939, p 4.
Renée Free, AGNSW Collections, 'The Western Heritage, Renaissance to Twentieth Century', pp 108-172, Sydney, 1994, col illus p 128.
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Western Collection: Works on Paper', pp 78-92, Sydney, 1999, illus p 82.
Hans Naef, The Burlington Magazine, '"Ingres" portrait drawings of English sitters in Rome', pp 427-435, London, Dec 1956, p 429. fig 2
Jules Varnier, L'artiste, 'M. Ingres', 1841, p 307.
Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 'Chronique des Arts' suppliment, Unknown, Mar 1993, illus p 31. no 152
Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 1992 [for the year ended 30 June 1992], Sydney, 1992, p 67.
The James Fairfax collection of old masters, Sydney, 1992. no catalogue numbers
Die Bildniszeichnungen von J.-A.-D. Ingres, Bern, 1977-1980, vol 1, 1977, pp 554-52, illus p 544, vol 4, 1977, illus p 276. no 150
French and English drawings 1800-1965, London, 1965, illus. cat.no. 20
The Burlington Magazine, London, Jul 1964, illus. advertisment
Ingres, Paris, 1911, pp 172-74.
Prints & drawings Europe 1500-1900, Sydney, 2014, p 118, col illus p 119.
The James Fairfax collection of old master paintings, drawings and prints, Sydney, 2003, pp 104-5, col illus p 105. cat no 27
Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 'The French in Rome', pp 54-71, Cologne, 2000, p 68, illus p 69. fig 64
Michelangelo to Matisse: drawing the figure, Sydney, 1999, illus p 167. cat no 162
Portraits by Ingres: image of an epoch, New York, 1999, p 190, p 219.
Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers