Portrait of Henry Philip Hope


Portrait of Henry Philip Hope



England’s grand portrait tradition,extending from Van Dyck and Lely to Gainsborough and Reynolds, culminated in Thomas Lawrence. Despite patronage from Europe’s heads of state and the English aristocracy, and despite becoming President of the Royal Academy (1820), Lawrence was habitually in debt, chiefly because of his extravagant lifestyle, including the cost of amassing an unrivalled collection of Old Master prints and drawings. Pressed to produce (he was near bankruptcy in 1807), he took on more commissions than he and his assistants could complete. When Sir Ratan paid 525 guineas for this portrait at the Hope auction in 1917, he almost certainly was unaware that it had remained in Lawrence’s studio after the artist died, along with some 150 other unfinished portraits. It was only “abt 1/2 finished” and completed by another hand, perhaps that of the Irish painter Sir Martin Archer Shee.

Lawrence’s most dramatic full-length portraits have a low point of view silhouetting and enhancing their towering figures. Exemplary is his Portrait of John Philip Kemble, as Coriolanus (1798), which conceptually is akin to his Portrait of Henry Philip Hope.Henry Philip (1774–1839) was a younger brother of the more famous collector and taste-maker Thomas Hope , who in 1798 had been painted by William Beechey in Ottoman costume, turbaned and with dagger in hand. Henry Philip sat for Lawrence in 1805, likewise dressed in Ottoman style to evoke his travels and admiration of Greek civilization. His vast wealth included a sizeable collection of ancient sculpture, paintings, and gems. Among the latter was the world’s largest deep blue diamond, which still bears his name, the Hope diamond.

Sir Ratan Tata Art Collection.


European Paintings


Sir Thomas Lawrence (1769–1830) completed by Sir Martin Archer Shee (?)

Object Type



Oil on canvas






17th - 18th Century CE




261 x 155 cms.