William Pars, Sir John Coxe Hippisley (1746–1825)

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
Sir John Coxe Hippisley (1746–1825)
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 230 cm, Overall width: 148 cm
William Pars (1742-1782)
Catalogue Number


John Coxe Hippisley was the son of a haberdasher from Bristol who forged a remarkable career as a diplomat and politician. The present full-length portrait was made in Rome around 1779–80, during Hippisley’s first visit to Italy. He had commissioned the present portrait by early 1780. Previously attributed to the Italian society portrait painter Pompeo Batoni, it is now attributed to the English artist William Pars, as was first suggested in 1974 by Sir Brinsley Ford.1 

Ford was alerted to the possibility that the portrait was by William Pars through an entry in the diary of the artist Thomas Jones, on 24 February 1780: ‘Went with Pars in a Chaise to make a Drawing of the Tomb of the Horatii at Albani which Pars is to introduce in the background of a whole length Picture he is painting of Mr. Hippesley [sic]’.2 In the background, rather than the tomb of the Horatii, is the church of Santa Maria Assunta and Palazzo Chigi, Ariccia.

A more detailed account of the present portrait forms the subject of the separate ‘Object in Focus’ by Martin Postle in the current case study.

by Martin Postle


  1. Brinsley Ford, ‘Sir John Coxe Hippisley: An Unofficial English Envoy to the Vatican’, Apollo Magazine, vol. 99, January–June 1974, pp. 440–1.

  2. ‘Memoirs of Thomas Jones: Penkerrig Radnorshire, 1803’, Walpole Society, vol. 32 (1946–8), 1951, p. 93, cited in Ford, 1974, p. 440.


Related catalogue items from Mells Manor

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    Henry Benedict Stuart, later Cardinal York (1725–1807)

    circle of Louis Gabriel Blanchet, c.1744

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    The Hall and Staircase, Mells, Somerset

    Rex Whistler

  • Castle Howard Mells Manor

    Portrait of a Woman

    Netherlandish School, Recto 1599, verso c.1500–99