Godfrey Kneller, Edward Harrison (1674–1732)

Photo courtesy of Tom St Aubyn (All rights reserved)


Country House
Raynham Hall
Edward Harrison (1674–1732)
Signed ‘GKneller. ft 1720’
The Belisarius Room
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 123 cm, Overall width: 100 cm
Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723)
Catalogue Number


Edward Harrison (1674–1732) of Balls Park, Hertfordshire was the first surviving son of Audrey, daughter of the 4th Viscount Grandison and Richard, a local politician, whom he succeeded in 1726. Harrison married Frances, daughter of Reginald Bray of Great Barrington, and their daughter Ethelreda (known as Audrey) married Charles Townshend, 3rd Viscount Townshend (1700–1764) in 1723. Audrey and Charles’s elder son, George (1724–1807) was later created the Marquess Townshend and their younger son, Charles (1725–1767), became a politician. Several portraits of Harrison family members were included in the Raynham Heirlooms sale of 1904.1

Following a career as a captain of ships trading with China, Edward Harrison became governor of Fort St George in Madras between 1711 and 1717. It was at this time that he sat to a Chinese artist for a portrait sculpture in coloured plaster.2 On his return to England Harrison entered politics, becoming MP for Weymouth and Melcombe Regis (1717–22) and for Hertford (1722–6). He gave up his seat in Parliament to become postmaster general in 1725, and also advanced to senior positions in the East India Company.

 The present portrait is signed by Godfrey Kneller and dated 1720, which was a few years after Harrison returned to England and towards the end of Kneller’s long career. As Oliver Millar notes, when he viewed RN63 at Raynham in 1995, the painting demonstrates the ‘soft greyish late tones’ used in some of the artist’s later works. An earlier and more robust portrait of Harrison by Kneller is in the collection of Museums Sheffield (VIS.3130). Its reported pair, ‘Mrs Harrison’ (private collection), is signed and dated 1719 and is featured in the Kneller catalogue raisonné.3

by Emily Burns


Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, ed. Rev. Edmund Farrer, vol. 2, Norwich : Jarrold and Sons, 1928, vol. 2, p. 235, no. 62, illus. opp. p. 224 (‘MAN’)

Paul Mellon Centre Archive, Oliver Millar, 'Notes on a Visit to Raynham Hall', ONM/1/22, 8 April 1995, p. 21


  1. Singh, 1928, vol. 2, pp. 203–4, nos 34–41.

  2. David Piper, The English Face, London: Thames & Hudson, 1957, p. 324, pl. 145.

  3. Stewart, 1983, p. 109, cat. no. 346.


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