caption

Jonathan Richardson the Elder, Richard Harrison (1646–1726)

Photo courtesy of Tom St Aubyn (All rights reserved)

Details

Country House
Raynham Hall
Title(s)
Richard Harrison (1646–1726)
Date
c.1710–20
Location
The Belisarius Room
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Overall height: 124 cm, Overall width: 100 cm
Artist
Jonathan Richardson the Elder (1667-1745)
Catalogue Number
RN66
Inscription
  • Inscribed lower left: ‘RICHARD HARRISON ESQ OF/ BALLS HERT-SHIRE GRAND/ FATHER TO THE VISCOUNTESS/ TOWNSEND’

Description

Richard Harrison was born in October 1646, the son of John Harrison and Mary Shotbolt. He was educated at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and the Middle Temple, serving as JP for Hertfordshire from 1670 to 1688. On 28 April 1668 he married the Honourable Audrey Villiers, daughter of George Villiers, 4th Viscount Grandison of Limerick and Lady Mary Leigh. Their son Edward, born in 1674, was the father of Audrey, who married Charles, later 3rd Viscount Townshend, in 1723.

Harrison succeeded to an estate of £1600 a year on his father’s death in 1669. He unfortunately also inherited a debt of £6000 to the Crown, which forced him to seek political and military office in order to secure immunity from arrest. In October 1669 he was elected MP for Lancaster and again in 1679. His father-in-law enrolled him in the Gentleman Pensioners, of which he was captain, to secure protection for Harrison during parliamentary recesses. Harrison was an inactive MP; he was nominally registered as a court supporter but took no part in the Exclusion Parliament. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688 he refused to swear the Oath of Allegiance and consequently spent the rest of his long life in retirement.

Jonathan Richardson (1667–1745) was a pupil of John Riley (1646–1691) and after Kneller’s death in 1723 was described by George Vertue as one of the three leading portrait painters of the day, along with Michael Dahl and Charles Jervas.1 His portraits of men have a sombre, fleshy quality, of which this is a typical example. It probably entered the Townshend collection along with a large number of other Harrison family portraits when Audrey Harrison inherited Balls Park. Most of the other Harrison portraits were sold in 1904 at the Townshend Heirlooms sale.

by Amy Lim

Bibliography

Prince Frederick Duleep Singh, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, ed. Rev. Edmund Farrer, vol. 2, Norwich : Jarrold and Sons, 1928, vol. 2, p. 226, no. 12 (‘RICHARD HARRISON’)


Footnotes

  1. George Vertue quoted in David Rodgers, ‘Richardson, Jonathan’ (2003), Grove Art Online, https://doi.org/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.article.T071983 (accessed 31 March 2020).

    1

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