Portrait of an Officer, formerly identified as William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
Not currently on display at the V&A
On display at Osterley Park House, London

Portrait of an Officer, formerly identified as William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland

Oil Painting
early 18th century (painted)
Place of origin

Whole-length portrait of an officer; standing in a landscape, turned slightly to right and looking to front, with right hand on hip. The sitter is dressed in a soldier's uniform. In the left background are two soldiers, one a grenadier.

Object details

Object type
TitlePortrait of an Officer, formerly identified as William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (generic title)
Materials and techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief description
Portrait, whole-length, of an unknown officer, previously said to be William Augustus Duke of Cumberland standing in a landscape. Oil painting, attributed to David Morier, formerly attributed to William Hogarth, early 18th century.
Physical description
Whole-length portrait of an officer; standing in a landscape, turned slightly to right and looking to front, with right hand on hip. The sitter is dressed in a soldier's uniform. In the left background are two soldiers, one a grenadier.
  • Estimate height: 18in
  • Estimate width: 13in
Dimensions taken from Summary catalogue of British Paintings, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973
Credit line
Bequeathed by John Jones
Object history
Bequeathed by John Jones, 1882
Ref : Parkinson, Ronald, Catalogue of British Oil Paintings 1820-1860. Victoria & Albert Museum, HMSO, London, 1990. p.xix-xx

John Jones (1800-1882) was first in business as a tailor and army clothier in London 1825, and opened a branch in Dublin 1840. Often visited Ireland, travelled to Europe and particularly France. He retired in 1850, but retained an interest in his firm. Lived quietly at 95 Piccadilly from 1865 to his death in January 1882. After the Marquess of Hertford and his son Sir Richard Wallace, Jones was the principal collector in Britain of French 18th century fine and decorative arts. Jones bequeathed an important collection of French 18th century furniture and porcelain to the V&A, and among the British watercolours and oil paintings he bequeathed to the V&A are subjects which reflect his interest in France.

See also South Kensington Museum Art Handbooks. The Jones Collection. With Portrait and Woodcuts. Published for the Committee of Council on Education by Chapman and Hall, Limited, 11, Henrietta Street. 1884.
Chapter I. Mr. John Jones. pp.1-7.
Chapter II. No.95, Piccadilly. pp.8-44. This gives a room-by-room guide to the contents of John Jones' house at No.95, Piccadilly.
Chapter VI. ..... Pictures,... and other things, p.138, "The pictures which are included in the Jones bequest are, with scarcely a single exception, valuable and good; and many of them excellent works of the artists. Mr. Jones was well pleased if he could collect enough pictures to ornament the walls of his rooms, and which would do no discredit to the extraordinary furniture and other things with which his house was filled."

Historical significance: On its acquisition as part of the Jones Bequest in 1882 this painting was identified as a portrait by William Hogarth (1697-1764) of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765), son of King George II. This attribution was accepted by Austin Dobson in his book William Hogarth (1902, p.178 and 1907, p.209). A note on the museum object file made by Basil Long in 1913 challenges this attribution and observes that it is closer in style to the work of the artist David Morier (1701/2-1770). In this note Basil Long also suggests that the figure in 589-1882 does not represent William, Duke of Cumberland (see note on object file). This observation is made by comparing the general physical appearance of the two sitters. In 589-1882 the Officer has slender proportions. These are very unlike the heavier figure of the Duke of Cumberland, for example see the portrait of him at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG 537) painted by Morier between 1748-1749.

The subject matter is typical of Morier. Born in Bern, Switzerland, Morier came to England following an introduction with his future patron, William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland in 1743. He is best known for his paintings of soldiers, which, like 589-1882, show in detail each regiment's uniform (collections principally at Windsor Castle and Wilton House). A number of these were made a series. In 1751, following the issue of the first British uniform regulations, Morier was made Limner to the duke with a salary of £100. At this time he also embarked on a series showing soldiers in uniforms, including the light dragoon regiments. When the Duke of Cumberland died in 1765, his second home, Cranbourn Lodge, Berkshire, housed 106 of these paintings and only works by the artists were displayed in the picture gallery.

Morier's work varies in quality. This is due to the fact the he probably employed assistants to help supply to the high demand for his work. Both composition and style of 589-1882 are close to that of Morier's oeuvre. It measures approximately 46 x 33 centimetres, making it similar in scale to other works by the artist, particularly those painted as a series for the Duke of Cumberland and now housed at Windsor Castle. The composition, placing the soldier in the foreground on a knoll of a hill, against a landscape of distant hills, is employed frequently by the artist. Also the framing device of a tree to one side of the sitter, here on the left of the canvas, occurs frequently in his paintings (for a comparison see Private, Reg. of Horse 4B "Pöllnitz" in the Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, inventory number RCIN 405598). The leaves of the tree in 589-1882 and Private, Reg. of Horse 4B "Pöllnitz" are created with applications of broad stippled brushstrokes. The forms of the clouds, painted in curved brushstrokes of tones of white and light grey can be seen in a number of paintings by Morier at Windsor (for example see: William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, inventory number RCIN 404142; and Private, Reg. of Horse 4B "Pöllnitz"). A comparison of the posture of the sitter in 589-1882 with that of Private, Reg. of Horse 4B "Pöllnitz" shows the artist's interest in creating an elegant figure. In both these paintings the sitter rests his weight on his left leg, which is furthest from the viewer, whilst placing his right arm either on his hip or, in the case of the painting in Windsor, against his face whilst resting his elbow on the horse by his side. The V&A portrait shows detailed observation of the officer's uniform, something which occurs frequently in Morier's work.
Andrew Cormack has suggested that Portrait of an Officer dates to 1750-1751, and therefore executed at the same time as the series of Grenadiers of the British Army house at the Royal Collection Windsor (see letter dated 2008 on object file). A comparison with the style of this painting with those in Windsor supports this dating. In the same letter Andrew Cormack notes that, whilst it is not possible to identify the regiment of the officer from the uniform that he is wearing, it can plausibly be linked to one of four regiments; the 34th Foot, 29th Foot, 46th Foot, or the 38th Foot. All these regiments wore red coats with yellow facings. However Cormack notes that the portrait might be of a regiment of which nothing is known of the uniform, therefore remaining difficult to identify.
Subjects depicted
Accession number

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Record createdMarch 25, 2003
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