studio of Joshua Reynolds, Sir Francis Blake Delaval

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
Doddington Hall
Sir Francis Blake Delaval
Ground Floor, Bottom Of Stairs & Lower Staircase To First Floor
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 227 cm, Overall width: 147 cm
studio of Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792)
Catalogue Number


This full-length portrait commemorates Francis Blake Delaval’s role in the action along the French coast by the British expeditionary force in June 1758, where he had served as a ‘distinguished volunteer’, and in recognition of which he was awarded a knighthood. Yet, while Delaval had been involved in the siege of St Malo, his vaunted military prowess was undermined by the fact that the port was taken without any opposition from the French.1

The composition exists in a number of versions and copies, indicating the importance attached to it by the sitter and his family. The prime autograph version was painted between December 1758 and January 1759. It may have been commissioned by Francis Delaval, although it was paid for by his brother, Waterhouse recording an undated receipt: ‘Received from John Hussey Delaval Esq the sum of sixty pounds for Sir Francis Delaval’s Picture whole length by me, J Reynolds.’ Reynolds also made a note of the payment in his ledger before 27 March 1762.

The prime autograph version of the portrait descended to the family of the Marquess of Waterford via Sir John Delaval’s granddaughter, Lady Susannah Carpenter, who married Henry, second Marquess of Waterford. It is now located at the seat of the Marquess of Waterford, Curraghmore House, County Waterford, Ireland. A second version, also catalogued by David Mannings as autograph, belongs to the Earl of Mexborough, and was previously on loan to York Art Gallery. Mannings notes a full-length copy of the composition, previously in the collection of the Earl of Lanesborough, sold by Christie’s, 13 July 1951 (48, as An Officer), the present whereabouts of which are unknown. He catalogues the version at Doddington Hall as a copy. When it was incorporated into the collection at Doddington is unknown, although in the late nineteenth century, as mentioned by Cole, it hung on the east wall of the Dining Room.

In addition to the versions mentioned above, Mannings notes the existence of three head-and-shoulders copies of the portrait. There is a kit-cat sized version at Seaton Delaval,2 which was apparently damaged in the fire at Seaton Delaval in 1822, and which may have been cut down from a larger canvas. The quality of the portrait suggests that it is at least partly autograph. There is also a small oval, oil on metal, head-and-shoulders copy sold Bonhams, Oxford, 5 September 2012 (203). A separate head and shoulders portrait, which Mannings also identifies as Francis Delaval, where the sitter wears a red army coat over a cuirass, would appear to be a portrait of Delaval’s younger brother, Henry Delaval, who was a captain in the British army. This portrait, painted in 1757, is lettered ‘Captain Delaval’, an inscription that appears also on the engraving made from it in 1864.3

by Martin Postle


R.E.G. Cole, History of Doddington, otherwise Doddington-Pigot, in the County of Lincoln, and its successive owners, with pedigrees, Lincoln : James Williamson, 1897, pp. 141, 222

Algernon Graves and William Vine Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds P.R.A., 1–4, London : Henry Graves and Co., 1899–1901, vol. 1, pp. 239–40

P. Tomory, 'On Permanent Loan: Eighteenth-Century Portraits', Preview, York Art Gallery, October 1951, pp. 184–7

Malcolm Cormack, 'The Ledgers of Sir Joshua Reynolds', vol. XIII, The Walpole Society, 1968–70, p. 132

David Mannings and Martin Postle, Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, 2 vols., New Haven and London : Yale University Press, 2000, vol. 1, p. 164, no. 502a


  1. For Delaval’s role in the expeditionary force of 1758 see W. Y. Carman, ‘Francis Blake Delaval’, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, vol. 30, no. 123, Autumn 1952, pp. 113–14.

  2. NT 1276714.

  3. NPG D1734.


Related catalogue items from Doddington Hall

  • Castle Howard Doddington Hall

    Interior of a Church

    Dutch School, c.1650s

  • Castle Howard Doddington Hall

    A View East from Edward Hussey Delaval's House in London

    figures by George Francis Joseph, George Arnald, 1813

  • Castle Howard Doddington Hall

    Anne Hussey Delaval, Lady Stanhope, and Sir John Delaval in a Performance of 'The Fair Penitent' by Nicholas Rowe

    attributed to Benjamin Wilson, ? 1767