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Key facts
Full title Mr Lewis as the Marquis in 'The Midnight Hour'
Artist Sir Martin Archer Shee
Artist dates 1769 - 1850
Date made before 1792
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 239 x 147 cm
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Thomas Denison Lewis, 1849; entered the Collection, 1863
Inventory number NG677
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Mr Lewis as the Marquis in 'The Midnight Hour'
Sir Martin Archer Shee
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Martin Archer Shee painted this portrait of the actor William Thomas Lewis for himself. It was one of seven works that he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1792 when he was just 22. Shee loved the theatre and many of the portraits he exhibited over the years were of actors and actresses.

William Thomas Lewis was an immensely popular actor who played at Covent Garden Theatre in London for 35 consecutive seasons from 1773 to 1808. Shee shows him dressed for his role in The Midnight Hour, which opened at Covent Garden Theatre on 22 May 1787.

The sitter’s son, Thomas Denison Lewis, bequeathed this portrait and the interest on a capital sum of £10,000 to the National Gallery in 1862. The Lewis Fund allowed the National Gallery to buy outright such paintings as Antonello da Messina’s Portrait of a Man, Avercamp’s A Scene on the Ice near a Town and Gainsborough’s Cornard Wood.

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