Friday, June 11, 2010

Thomas Gainsborough's Portraits of George III's Family

In 1782 King George and Queen Charlotte decided they couldn't get enough of their large family and commissioned their favorite artist, Thomas Gainsborough, to paint individual portraits of everyone. It is kind of like those old school portraits your mother still has on display, right down to the bland background. Awkward smiles are absent and I think the outfits are quite fashionable unlike my school portraits.

Queen Charlotte
George Prince of Wales
William IV
Princess Royal (Charlotte)
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent
Princess Augusta
Princess Elizabeth
Prince Ernest, Duke of Cumberland late King of Hanover
Prince Augustus, Duke of Sussex

Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge

Princess Mary

Princess Sophia

Prince Octavius

Prince Alfred

Some of you may have noticed two family members are missing. First of all, I'm impressed if that is the case. Princess Amelia was not portrayed for she was still a twinkle in her father's eye. The second-born Prince Frederick is also missing from portrayals. This is not due to his parents' dislike of him but because the prince was vacationing on the continent. However, some art historians can't believe that Gainsborough would go without completing the family and think there is a long lost Frederick portrait.


  1. The eldest princesses' portraits are so similar as to be almost identical, even considering their carefully coordinated outfits. The positions of their heads and their countenance are is strikingly exact, or so it seems to me.

  2. Beautiful! I love this set of portraits. Princess Elizabeth is my favourite- something about her expression, I think.

    Have you read Princesses by Flora Fraser? It's big but worth a read (can be a bit dry in places)!

  3. I have never seen all of Gerorge's family's portraits gathered in one place and how wonderful to be able to look at their similar features. I could look at portraits all day. There was an exhibition of miniatures in Charleston, SC a few years ago and I visited several times.

    Have you read Princesses: The Daughters of George III by Flora Fraser? How about A Royal Affair by Stella Tillyard? Fantastic read. Love Stella.

    I just posted a blurb about one of George's poor, unfortunate sisters.

    Always a pleasure to visit your blog.

  4. @Comtesse, It wasn't until they were all together that I realize just how similar many of the children look.

    I never see all these portraits together either, and I always wonder why. It seems natural to display them all together.

    I did read Frasier's Princesses (and reviewed it) and was disappointed in the book. I found it got extremely dry.

  5. Princess Mary is adorable =) and I think it's interesting how she and Sophia are the only ones who don't look alike despite their outfits. Thank you, Mr Gainsborough, for this copious record of the royals!

  6. Yep, I found Flora Fraser's book dry too. I'm glad I read it, but I think she could have made it livelier somehow...

  7. Your blog inspired a new locket by Renata. We just love your blog. Keep up the outstanding work.




  8. Why thank you!! Is it up on the site yet? I will have to check it out!

  9. Hello! I must be so late to reply in this blog but you should see Wikipedia. I was so confused when you mentioned Prince Frederick because he is not included in the list of George III's issues. Thanks for this!

    1. Hi Yin! Prince Frederick, Duke of York was the second son of George and Charlotte. He and the Prince of Wales were thick as thieves together (especially during the regency crisis) and he ended up marrying another Fred of sorts: Frederica of Prussia!