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His Royal Highness William Duke of Cumberland

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    London (printed)

  • Date:

    1740s-1750s (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Faber, John the younger (engraver)
    Hudson, Thomas, born 1701 - died 1779 (artist)
    Wootton, John, born 1682 - died 1764 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Mezzotint on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level D, case PP, shelf 10, box A

William Augustus, duke of Cumberland (1721–1765), was the second son of George II and his wife Caroline. The duke was the king’s favourite son, receiving the preferment of his father over his elder brother the Prince of Wales. He is remembered for his harsh treatment of Jacobite rebels after the battle of Culloden, which earned him the nickname ‘the Butcher’. In 1745 the charismatic Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of James II, landed in Scotland with the intention of restoring the house of Stuart to the British throne. With the majority of British forces committed to a war on the Continent, the rebel army, after a series of victories at Prestonpans, Carlisle and Falkirk, advanced as far south as Derby. With the impending threat of a Jacobite army marching on London, Cumberland was recalled and given the task of defeating the rebels, which he did at Culloden on 16 April 1746. His return to London was welcomed with a service of thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral and, famously, Handel’s composition of ‘See the Conquering Hero’.

During the Seven Years War Cumberland was again despatched to command the British army on the continent. His agreement to a convention with the French at Kloster-Zeven on 8 September 1757 brought him disgrace and soured relations with George II; the duke subsequently resigned all military commands.

In the 1760s, in the reign of his nephew, George III, the duke re-emerged in British politics as an advisor to the young king, and he was instrumental in the formation of the Rockingham administration in 1765.

John Wootton was an artist who specialised in sporting art and landscapes, particularly topographical views; Thomas Hudson was a successful London based portraitist. In the original portrait, the two artists have combined their respective talents in the genres of landscape and portraiture. The duke is depicted on horseback, dressed in military uniform and holding his general’s baton – a symbol of his authority; the distant battle points to his experience as a military commander during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) and the Jacobite Rising of 1745.

Mezzotint is an intaglio printmaking process. This technique allows for a greater effect in the gradation of tone. The engraver employs the use of a rocker – a tool used to roughen the surface of the metal plate from which the print is made; the printing surface is then smoothed with a burnisher so that certain areas of the plate retain more or less ink than others – the more an area is burnished the less ink it will hold, and so the lighter it will appear when printed.

The engraver John Faber was born in the Hague; along with his father, the elder John Faber, he settled in London in the late-17th century. Faber produced a significant number of mezzotints during his career, particularly of portraits.

Physical description

Whole-length portrait on horseback, to left and looking to front; wearing military uniform, right arm raised and holding a sword; a battle in the background.

Place of Origin

London (printed)


1740s-1750s (printed)


Faber, John the younger (engraver)
Hudson, Thomas, born 1701 - died 1779 (artist)
Wootton, John, born 1682 - died 1764 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Mezzotint on paper

Marks and inscriptions

'Done from the Original at Leicester House, Painted by Mr. John Wootton and Mr. Thomas Hudson, by J. Faber. His Royal Highness William Duke of Cumberland. To His Grace Charles Duke of Richmond, Lennox and Aubigne, &c. &c. &c. This Plate is Humbly Dedicated by His most Obedient and Devoted Servant / John Faber.'


Height: 51 cm cut, Width: 36.9 cm cut

Descriptive line

Whole-length equestrian portrait of William Augustus Duke of Cumberland. Mezzotint by John Faber after Thomas Hudson and John Wootton, 1740s-1750s.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Smith, John Chaloner. British Mezzotinto Portraits. London: Henry Sotheran & Co., 1883. Vol. 1, p.336.





Subjects depicted

Battle; Sword; Uniform; Duke; Horse


Portraits; Prints; Royalty; Royalty; Photographs; Topography; Scotland


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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