Nathaniel Hone, Portrait Painter

(b. 1718, d. 1784)

Portrait Painter

From A Dictionary of Irish Artists 1913

Nathaniel Hone. Picture by Himself; in possession of Nathaniel Hone, R.H.A., St. Doulough's, Co. Dublin.

Was born in Dublin on 24th April, 1718. He was third son of Nathaniel Hone of Wood Quay, merchant, and Rebeckah, daughter of Samuel Brindley. Nothing is known of his early training as an artist; but as a young man he went to England, and for some time practised as an itinerant portrait-painter, moving about the country and picking up such commissions as he could. In February, 1742, he married, in York Minster, Mary Earle, a lady possessed of some property, and then settled for a time in London. His portrait of E. Gambarini was done in London in 1748, as well as his miniature of his brother Samuel. In 1750 he went to Italy for the purposes of study; he was in Rome in that and the following year, and in Florence in 1752, when he was made a Member of the Florentine Academy. On his return the same year to England he paid a visit to Dublin,* and then settled in London.

He soon established a reputation as a portrait painter in oil and in miniature, more especially in enamel in which he was, after the death of Zincke, unrivalled. He was a Member of the Society of Artists, and began to exhibit with them in 1760, his first contribution being "A Brick-dust Man," which was afterwards reproduced in mezzotint by James Watson. He continued to exhibit regularly every year to 1768. On the foundation of the Royal Academy in 1769 he was one of the original Members, and was an exhibitor down to 1784, sending in all sixty-nine works. His picture of Francis Grose and Theodosius Forrest masquerading as two Friars was in the Academy in 1770, but before being exhibited the artist was compelled to alter it, as it was considered too irreverent. He afterwards engraved the picture in its original state. Hone was ambitious to attain to the same success and popularity as a painter in oils as he had already achieved as a miniature painter in enamel, and in his jealousy of the success of Reynolds he lost no opportunity in endeavouring to defame him, and his pique against the President made him always a somewhat turbulent member of the Academy.

Nathaniel Hone. Picture by Himself; in National Gallery of Ireland.

The climax was reached when, in 1775, he sent to the Academy a picture entitled "The Conjurer," which was an obvious attack on Sir Joshua, and also contained what was thought to be an indecent caricature of Angelica Kauffmann. The picture was removed from the walls of the exhibition. Hone repudiated any idea of insult to the lady, and painted out the objectionable figure. He soon after exhibited the picture, together with a number of others of his works, in a room in St. Martin's Lane, opposite Slaughter's Coffee-house. In the catalogue, entitled "The Exhibition of Pictures by Nathaniel Hone, R.A., mostly the Works of his leisure, and many of them in his own possession," it was stated that none of the miniatures and enamels "have been painted within these fifteen years, as Mr. Hone gave up his leisure hours for that time to painting in oil." Most of the drawings and oil pictures had already been exhibited at the Society of Artists and the Royal Academy. In the catalogue he published an apology and a defence regarding his alleged caricature of Angelica Kauffmann; but his explanations, although accompanied by an affidavit, were not favourably received either by his brother academicians or by Angelica. Nollekens said to him bluntly: "You know it was your intention to ridicule her, whatever you or your printed papers and your affidavit may say." He was a friend of Captain William Baillie, the engraver, and assisted him in the formation of the collection for Lord Mountstewart, afterwards 4th Earl of Bute, at Luton Hoo.

Hone died at 44 Rathbone Place on 14th August, 1784, and was buried on the 20th in Hendon Churchyard. By his wife Mary Earle, who survived him, and died in February, 1791, he had five sons and five daughters—Nathaniel, a captain in the Wiltshire Militia, Horace John Camillus and Samuel and Apelles, who both died young; Lydia, died young; Amelia, married to Ambrose Rigg; Mary, married to Dr. Metcalfe; and Sophia and Floreth, who both died young.

Hone had a large collection of prints and drawings which was dispersed by auction in February, 1785. A few drawings from his collection, with his mark, a human eye, are in the National Gallery of Ireland, the bequest of Miss Eleanor Hone. In the British Museum is a pencil drawing of a Lady, on vellum, by him. He etched a few plates and scraped four mezzotints after his own pictures.

J. T. Smith, in his "Life of Nollekens," describes Hone as "a tall, upright, large man, with a broad-brimmed hat and a lapelled coat buttoned up to his stock." He painted many portraits of himself. In one of Sir Joshua Reynolds' note books is a caricature sketch of him.

Nathaniel Hone's miniatures are usually signed N. H., with date.

(The pictures marked * in following list are those exhibited in St. Martin's Lane, in 1775.)

Portrait of Himself. Oil picture. [National Portrait Gallery.]

Portrait of Himself. Oil picture. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

Portrait of Himself. Oil picture. [Royal Academy, Diploma Gallery.]

Portrait of Himself. Oil picture. [N. Hone, R.H.A., St. Doulough's, Malahide.]

Portrait of Himself, as a Young Man. Oil picture. Engraved in mezzotint by E. Fisher.

Portrait of Himself, with fur cap. Oil picture. Engraved in mezzotint by himself.

Portrait of Himself, with turban. Oil picture. Engraved in mezzotint by himself.

Portrait of Himself. Enamel miniature, signed and dated 1749; lent to South Kensington Exhibition, 1865, by J. Hughes Anderdon.

Master Angelo. Oil picture. R.A., 1769.

Mrs. Armstrong.

Captain Thomas Baillie, Lieut.-Governor of Chelsea Hospital. Engraved in mezzotint by James Watson and published in 1779 with a folio volume containing the proceedings for libel against Baillie, who was, as the print states, turned out of his office by the Earl of Sandwich for asserting the rights of British Seamen.

Captain Thomas Baillie; ? same picture. R.A., 1780.

*Mrs. Beaumont.

*Mr. Bernard.

*Mr. Bird.

*Mr. and Miss Biscoe.

Sir Ulick Blake, Bart., of Menlough. Christie's, 13th Dec., 1912.

Mrs. Anastasia Blake-Forster, daughter of foregoing. Oil picture, painted in 1768; sold by Mrs. Blake-Forster, of Ballykeal, Kilfenora, Co. Clare, at Christie's, February, 1911, for 1050 guineas. [Lord Revelstoke.]

*Mr. Bond.

James Boswell. Enamel, signed and dated 1763. Lent to Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1887 by Jeffrey Whitehead.

Captain Brabazon, R.N. Oil picture. [Lieut.-Col. E. Brabazon Urmiston, C.B.]

W. Brereton, actor, as Douglas. R.A., 1781. Engraved in stipple by E. Harding, 1795, in "European Magazine."

*Captain Broadley.

Edmund Burke. Miniature. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

Alice, Lady Busk. Enamel set in a ring, signed and dated 1759. Lent to exhibition at South Kensington in 1865, by Captain Hans Busk.

John, 4th Earl of Bute, when Lord Mountstewart. Oil picture. [Marquess of Bute.] Engraved in stipple by W. Baillie, 1779.

John, fourth Earl of Bute. Miniature, signed and dated 1766. [Lord Wharncliffe.]

*Miss Butler.

Rev. Emmanuel Collins. Oil picture. Engraved in mezzotint by J. McArdell.

Mrs. Cornwall. Enamel, signed and dated 1761. Lent to the exhibition at South Kensington, 1865, by Sir J. Simeon, Bart.

*Mrs. Cotton.

Georgina, Countess Cowper. Enamel, signed and dated 1750. Lent to South Kensington Exhibition, 1865, by Lady Sophia des Voeux.

*Dr. Cox.

Miss Crowther, daughter of the proprietor of the Bow China Factory, and afterwards wife of Sir James Lake. Mentioned in Smith's "Life of Nollekens."

*Lady Caroline Curzon.

William, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth. R.A., 1777.

*Miss Davenport.

Henry, 1st Earl Digby. Miniature, 1767. Lent to Burlington Fine Arts Club in 1887 by J. K. D. Wingfield Digby.

*Mrs. Dopping.

Archibald Duff. [Gordon Duff, Drummuir, Keith.]

*Mrs. Durban.

Miss Egerton. Miniature, signed and dated 1759. Lent to South Kensington Exhibition, 1865, by Lord Egerton of Tatton.

General Eliot, afterwards Lord Heathfield. Engraved in stipple by R. Pollard.

*Governor Eyre.

Sir John Fielding. Oil picture, half length. Engraved in mezzotint by J. R. Smith, 1773.

Sir John Fielding. Oil picture, nearly full length, seated. Engraved in mezzotint by J. McArdell. (One of these pictures was exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1762.)

Mathias Finucane, Justice of the Common Pleas, Ireland. Oil picture. [H. V. Macnamara, Ennistymon.]

Kitty Fisher. Soc. Artists, 1765.

Richard, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam. Miniature on card, unfinished. [Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.]

*Mrs. Foley.

*Lord Fortescue.

*Mrs. Frazi.

Frederick, Prince of Wales. Miniature. Soc. Artists, 1768.

Elisabetta Gambarini; a young lady musician and painter. Nathl. Hone inven. et sculp. Londini 1748. Frontispiece to her "Lessons on the Harpsichord."

*Mrs. Gilham.

Richard Glover, poet. Drawn in 1756. Engraved by T. Holloway for "European Magazine," 1786; also by W. Ensom.

Richard Stephen Greenaway. Etching.

Francis Grose. Engraved by Bartolozzi, as frontispiece to "Antiquities of England," 1787; also by W. Ridley, in "European Magazine," 1797.

Francis Grose and Theodosius Forrest as Capuchin Friars feasting at a table. Oil picture. In the centre Grose with his hands clasped is seated at a table on which are a turkey, bread, a flask, sugar, lemon, etc.; on the left Forrest is stirring a large bowl of punch with a crucifix. On the wall are pictures of the Virgin and the Magdalene and shelves of books. R.A., 1770. Before the exhibition of the picture the artist was compelled to substitute a punch ladle for the crucifix; but Hone soon after exhibited it in its original state in St. Martin's Lane. The catalogue says: "The cross is here restored as at first intended, instead of a punch ladle which was painted by order of the Council of the Academy for its admittance." It was engraved in mezzotint in 1772 by Hone himself and inscribed Monachum non facit Cucullus. The picture was sold by auction after Hone's death.

*Lady Charlotte Gurney.

*Duchess of Hamilton.

*Mrs. Hare.

Richard Harrison, minister of Brompton Chapel. Oil picture, R.A., 1780. Engraved by C. Knight, 1788.

John Hinchcliffe, Bishop of Peterborough. Enamel, signed and dated 1758. Lent to South Kensington Exhibition, 1865, by Emilius Clayton.

John Hinchcliffe. Soc. Artists, 1765.

Benjamin Hoadly, Bishop of Bangor. Drawn by Hone after a wax model by Gosset. Engraved by J. Basire, 1772, as frontispiece to his "Works," 1773.

Amelia Hone, daughter of the artist. Oil picture. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Greenwood.

Horace Hone, son of the artist, as "David." Oil picture. R.A., 1771. Engraved in mezzotint by James Watson, 1778.

John Camillus Hone, as "The Spartan Boy." Oil picture. R.A., 1775. Noted by Walpole as "Finely coloured and good expression." Engraved in mezzotint by J. R. Smith, 1775. The same plate also appeared with W. Humphrey's name as engraver. Also engraved in stipple by Newton.

John Camillus Hone, as "The Piping Boy." Oil picture. R.A., 1769. [National Gallery of Ireland.] Engraved in mezzotint by W. Baillie, 1771.

Lydia Hone, daughter of the artist. Engraved in mezzotint by C. Phillips, 1771. In the possession of Mr. Gordon Duff, of Drummuir, is a portrait similar, with slight variations, to the print.

Lydia Hone. Engraved by J. R. Smith, 1765.

Samuel Hone, brother of the artist. Miniature, painted in 1748. [Miss Hannah Hone, Rosevale, Raheny.]

Rebeckah Hone, the painter's mother, in the 80th year of her age. In the background is a portrait of his father "copied from a picture of his own painting when he was quite unacquainted with the art, but was a strong likeness." R.A., 1771, and St. Martin's Lane, 1775.

*Miss Horton.

Dr. Hunter. Miniature. Soc. Artists, 1765.

*Mr. Jordan.

Elizabeth La Touche, Countess of Lanesborough. Miniature. Engraved by Bartolozzi, 1791.

General Lloyd. Oil picture. [Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.]

*Mr. McCarty.

Sarah Malcolm, the Temple Laundress, executed for murder. Enamel, 1750.

Mrs. Manley. Enamel; Bohn Sale, 1885. Miss Metcalfe. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Finlayson, 1772.

*Lord Middlesex.

*Lady Middlesex.

David, 2nd Viscount Milsington. Collection of Rev. E. H. Dawkins, Christie's, 28th Feb., 1913.

David, 4th Viscount Milsington. Signed and dated 1755. Collection of Rev. E. H. Dawkins, Christie's, 28th Feb., 1913.

Henry Mossop, actor. Oil picture. [Garrick Club.]

*Algernon, Earl of Mountrath.

Lord Mountstewart.—See under Bute.

Sir George Nares. Engraved in mezzotint by W. Dickenson, 1776.

Charles, 10th Duke of Norfolk. Enamel, dated 1767. Lent to South Kensington Exhibition, 1865, by Philip Henry Howard.

Letitia Pilkington. Engraved in mezzotint by R. Purcell, and prefixed to the quarto edition of "Memoirs of John Carter Pilkington," 1760.

*Lord Plymouth.

*Lady Plymouth.

*Lord Portmore.

Margarite Mary Raraud. Enamel, dated 1750. Lent to South Kensington Exhibition, 1865, by C. B. Carruthers.

Mr. Salkeld.

William Sclater, D.D. Engraved in mezzotint by J. R. Smith, 1777.

Lieut.-General Sherard and Captain Tiffin. Oil picture. R.A., 1782. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Greenwood.

Mrs. Smith. R.A., 1784.

*Captain Stevens.

Margaret Stevenson, afterwards Mrs. Fitzgerald, and later the wife of the Hon. Robert Moore. Christie's, 15th May, 1913.

Lady Stanhope, as Calista in "The Fair Penitent." R.A., 1771.

Countess of Sutherland. Oil picture; signed and dated 1775. Christie's, 23rd March, 1903.

Colonel Richard Talbot. Oil picture. [Malahide Castle.]

*Dr. Taylor.

James Turner, a beggar who valued his time at a shilling an hour. Miniature, 1751. [Rt. Hon. L. A. Waldron, Marino, Ballybrack.] Etched by Grave, 4to; by W. Baillie, 8vo, 1774; and by N. Hone, 8vo.

Horace Walpole. Enamel, 1760. [The late Lady Dorothy Nevill.]

Horace Walpole. Oil picture. [National Portrait Gallery.]

Hon. Mrs. Walpole. Miniature. Dated 1758. [The late Lady Dorothy Nevill.]

A Lady of the Walpole family. Enamel. Dated 1750. Lent to South Kensington Exhibition, 1865, by R. G. Clarke.

*Captain Weldon.

John Wesley. Oil picture. Painted in 1766. [National Portrait Gallery.] Engraved by Bland.

John Wesley. Oil picture. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Greenwood, 1770, when the picture was in the possession of Thomas Wooldridge, of East Florida.

George Whitfield. Oil picture. Soc. Artists, 1768. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Greenwood, and in line by V. M. Picot.

*Mr. Wilks.

Charles Wray. Oil picture. R.A., 1780. Engraved in mezzotint by R. Earlom.

Anna Zamperini, as Cecchina in "La Buona Figliuola." Oil picture, Soc. Artists, 1768. Engraved in mezzotint by J. Finlayson, 1769, and in line by J. Cook, 1843.

Portrait of a Girl. [Lord Rathdonnell, Drumcar, Co. Louth.]

A Man, unknown, in broad-leafed hat and holding a roll of paper. Oil picture. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

A Man, unknown, in a green coat, holding a tasselled stick. [National Gallery of Ireland.]

A Brick-dust Man. Soc. Artists, 1760; also St. Martin's Lane in 1775, when the catalogue stated it was "the work of a day." Engraved in mezzotint by J. Watson.

A Fly, in enamel. Soc. Artists, 1761.

Diogenes looking for an Honest Man. Soc. Artists, 1768.

Portrait of the late Tripoli Ambassador. R.A., 1770.

Portrait of "a Lady in her fourscorth year." R.A., 1771.

A Student with a plaster of Paris head in his hand. R.A., 1771.

A Boy deliberating on his drawing. Soc. Artists, 1706.

A Boy composing a Garland. R.A., 1771.

A Boy with a Portfolio. R.A., 1771.

A Girl with a dog. R.A., 1771.

A Child with a cat. R.A., 1772.

A Fisherman. R.A., 1773.

A Hare. R.A., 1773.

The Conjuror. As a lampoon on Sir Joshua Reynolds and a scurrilous caricature of Angelica Kauffmann, the picture was refused admittance to the R.A. in 1775. It was in the same year exhibited by Hone in St. Martin's Lane. The picture was in the artist's sale in 1785 and was bought for £90 by "some gentleman in Kent" (Edwards' "Anecdotes of Painting"). According to Redford's "Art Sales" the picture, described as the property of "a French Nobleman," was sold at Christie's, five years later, in 1790, for 15 guineas. A copy, intended for engraving, was in the artist's sale in 1785.

Historical Sketch of Nathan in his reply to David. R.A., 1783.

Portraits of (?) Philip II of Spain and the Princess d'Eboli, after Titian. Enamel, 5 ¼ by 8 inches. [Fitzwilliam Museum.]

Racehorse "Jason." Engraved in mezzotint by E. Fisher.

NOTE: * His diary records the expenses of his journey to Dublin, as follows:





Road bills




Carriage of trunk



Passage money










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