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Maurice-Quentin de La Tour, Henry Dawkins

Key facts
Full title Henry Dawkins
Artist Maurice-Quentin de La Tour
Artist dates 1704 - 1788
Date made about 1751
Medium and support Pastel on paper mounted on canvas
Dimensions 66.7 × 53.3 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Charles Bridger Orme Clarke, 1940
Inventory number NG5118
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Henry Dawkins
Maurice-Quentin de La Tour

This is Henry Dawkins II (1727–1814) of Over Norton, Oxfordshire; Standlynch Park, Wiltshire and Portman Square, London. He was a member of the Jamaica Assembly during the years 1752–8, and a member of its Council in 1758–9. His fortune was made through the ownership of slaves. By May 1759 he had left Jamaica for England, where he became a Member of Parliament.

It is likely that this pastel portrait of Dawkins was made in Paris, where the artist was based. The style of Dawkins’s wig and costume are consistent with a date of about 1751. His pose, with one hand tucked inside his waistcoat, was one frequently adopted for half-length portraits in the mid-eighteenth century, particularly by English sitters, to signify manly boldness tempered with modesty.

The relative simplicity of the composition may have been due to the limited time that Dawkins had in Paris. The colours, particularly the crimson of the coat, have faded.

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