Joshua Reynolds, The Reverend Zachariah Mudge

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)


Country House
The Reverend Zachariah Mudge
? c.1761–6
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Overall height: 74 cm, Overall width: 62 cm
Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792)
Catalogue Number


Zachariah Mudge (1694–1769) was vicar of St Andrew’s, Plymouth and prebendary of Exeter Cathedral. He married first Mary Fox, by whom he had four sons and one daughter, and secondly in 1762 Elizabeth Neell (d. 1782; TN30). Mudge, the father of Dr John Mudge, was a close friend of the Reynolds and Northcote families. As a young man he had been employed as a master at the school run by Reynolds’s grandfather in Exeter, where he also formed a friendship with Reynolds’s father, Samuel. Joshua Reynolds, who had known Mudge from his boyhood, regarded him as an early mentor and in 1762 on a visit to Devon introduced him to a later mentor, Samuel Johnson, whose respect and friendship he also gained.

‘Mr Mudge’ appears frequently in Reynolds’s sitter-books, although the various references could be to either Zachariah Mudge or his son John, since both were friends. Also, it seems likely that a number of these references are to social calls rather than records of portrait sittings.1 In the opinion of David Mannings, the present portrait was painted probably around 1761–2, although, as noted below, it may not have been completed until 1766.

In 1827, Richard Rosdew, the husband of Mudge’s granddaughter, and who then owned the present portrait, stated, ‘Sir Joshua’s attachment to him was so fervent that he painted him three times, and gave one picture to his son, Dr Mudge, and the others to mutual friends’.2 In his book Mudge Memoirs, published in 1883, Stamford Raffles Flint also stated that Reynolds had painted three portraits of Zachariah Mudge – the first in May 1761, the second in May 1762 and the third in 1766. The two earlier pictures, he affirmed, were both ‘nearly full face portraits’. Both portraits according to Flint had lost much of their original colouring, while the second had been partly damaged by having a jug of boiling water thrown over it accidently when lying on a table.3 The third portrait, Flint maintained, was painted in 1766. By way of support, he mentioned not only the presence of Mudge’s name in Reynolds’s sitter-book in May 1766 but also relevant notes from John Mudge’s pocket-book which confirm a visit to London by his mother and father from April to June 1766. John Mudge also noted, ‘1767 Monday March 9th. Received my Father’s picture from London’, a reference probably to the present portrait, which may therefore have been completed in 1766, rather than the suggested earlier date.4 The mezzotint engraving of the portrait by James Watson (c.1740–1790) (fig. 1) is undated, although it was probably made shortly afterwards.

1766. Mezzotint engraving, 33.7 × 23.3 cm. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1970.3.209).

Figure 1.
James Watson after Joshua Reynolds, Zachariah Mudge, 1766. Mezzotint engraving, 33.7 × 23.3 cm. Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection (B1970.3.209).

Digital image courtesy of Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection. (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Aside from the present portrait, there are various associated portraits of Mudge, which have been ascribed to Reynolds, including a version at Williams College, Williamstown, USA (fig. 2), and a related composition recorded in the Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts.5 In the opinion of Mannings neither portrait can be attributed with confidence to Reynolds.6 Sir Ellis Waterhouse maintained that, although there were other versions, Reynolds painted only the present portrait of Mudge.7 However, in the light of Rosdew’s comments, it is possible that the version at Williams College, which is at the very least a studio version of the portrait at Trewithen, is one of the pictures to which he refers.

Portrait of Reverand Zachariah Mudge, D.D.

Figure 2.
Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Reverand Zachariah Mudge, D.D., 1763. Oil on canvas, 76.8 × 63 cm. Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown (43.2.4).

Digital image courtesy of Williams College Museum of Art/Bequest of Charles M Davenport, Class of 1901. (All rights reserved)

A copy of Reynolds’s portrait of Zachariah Mudge was made by John Jackson, in relation to a bust of Mudge by Francis Chantrey commissioned for St Andrew’s church, Exeter.8 Apparently, Chantrey offered to make the bust gratis if he was allowed to keep Reynolds’s portrait. Instead, however, he was persuaded to accept the copy by Jackson. According to Flint, the engraving of the Mudge portrait by S. W. Reynolds, published in 1835 as ‘the possession of Francis Chantry, Esq.r R.A.’, was in fact the Jackson copy and not Reynolds’s original, as the inscription on the print maintained.9 It is now untraced.10

Aside from the various putative portraits of Mudge by Reynolds, Flint mentioned in passing a portrait by Thomas Hudson and another by Robert Edge Pine, painted for Mudge’s friend Mr Heath, town clerk of Exeter. Flint states that Heath in turn presented his portrait by Pine to Zachariah Mudge.11

The picture is listed in the inventory of March 1928 as hanging in the Dining Room: ‘Sir. J. Reynolds P.R.A. 1766 – Revd. Zachariah Mudge 1696–1769, wearing wig, nearly half length, resting chin on hand, 28 by 24in’. Exhibited: Royal Academy, 1878 (87).

by Martin Postle


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. 2, p.676 and vol.4 pp.1371–2

Christopher Hussey, 'Trewithen, Cornwall', Country Life, 2 & 9 April 1953, p. 107

Ellis Waterhouse, Reynolds, London : Phaidon Press Ltd., 1973, p. 57

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. 346. no. 1310


  1. Mannings and Postle, 2000, vol. 1, p. 346, no. 1310.

  2. New Monthly Magazine and Literary Journal, vol. 21, 1 August 1827, p. 352.

  3. Flint, 1883, p. 23. In a checklist entitled ‘Portraits of Members of the Mudge Family’, p. 259, Flint includes four portraits of Zachariah Mudge by Reynolds. Aside from the one belonging to him, he recorded one belonging to Mrs Walcott, dated 1761, formerly in the possession of Mr Herring and Mr Thomas Mudge; another, dated 1762, belonging to Richard R. Mudge, formerly in the possession of Mr Veale and the Reverend John Mudge; and a sketch belonging to Mrs J. R. Gwatkin. The sketch, probably in oils, was shown by Mrs Gwatkin, a descendant of Reynolds, at the National Exhibition of Works of Art, Leeds, 1868 (1084).

  4. Ibid., pp. 23–4. In his pocket-book John Mudge noted that his parents returned from London on 5 June 1766. Reynolds in his sitter-book recorded the presence of a ‘Mr Mudge’ in his studio on 30 June. The appearance of Mudge’s name adjacent to ‘Miss Angelica’ (the artist Angelica Kauffmann) suggests that John Mudge rather than his august father was present on that particular social occasion.

  5. See Mannings and Postle, 2000, vol. 1, p. 346, no. 1310b. The portrait recorded at Springfield, although related to the Reynolds portrait, is not a copy, since the angle of the head and position of the hand are different. For related photographs and correspondence, see the Ellis Waterhouse Archive, Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, EKW/1/319-324, Box 45. A version, evidently relating to the Springfield picture, was sold by Christie’s, London, 16 June 2005 (227). Stamford Raffles Flint mentioned a version belonging to ‘Mr Mallock’ of Cockington Court, Torquay: MS notebook, n.d., Trewithen.

  6. Mannings and Postle, 2000, vol. 1, p. 346.

  7. Ellis Waterhouse wrote to Miss Helen C. Dracos, the owner of a putative version of the Mudge portrait, 15 August 1967: ‘There is no real evidence that Reynolds ever himself painted more than one portrait (or version) of the Rev. Zachariah Mudge, but there were two further versions or portraits of him which belonged to other members of the family around 1900. One of these, identical in pattern with the engraved picture is probably the picture now in the Williams College Art Gallery, Williams College, Williamstown, Mass. It is possible that yours might be the other but its descent would have to be known to prove this, and even then there is no evidence that it was by Reynolds’. Ellis Waterhouse Archive, Paul Mellon Centre, EKW/1/319-324, Box 45.

  8. The bust is still in St Andrew’s, although badly damaged by bombing during the Second World War.

  9. Flint, 1883, p. 27.

  10. Following the death of Chantrey’s wife, Jackson’s copy was sold as an original portrait by Reynolds: Christie’s, London, 29 April 1853. It was purchased by a picture dealer named Farrer for £39 18s. The picture was with J. W. Gwatkin by 1861 and R. G. Gwatkin in 1899: Mannings and Postle, 2000, vol. 1, p. 346, no. 1310a.

  11. Flint, 1883, p. 23 n. 2. There is a full-face portrait of Zachariah Mudge by an unknown artist in Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery (PLYMG.1975.146), which may conceivably be related to the portrait attributed by Flint to Hudson, or indeed to the ‘nearly full face’ portraits by Reynolds, which he also mentions. There is also a full-length portrait of Benjamin Heath by Pine in Exeter Guildhall, which may have been commissioned at the same time the portrait of Heath was presented to Mudge.


Related catalogue items from Trewithen

  • Castle Howard Trewithen

    Thomas Mudge

    James Northcote, 1782

  • Castle Howard Trewithen

    The Reverend Zachariah Mudge

    Joshua Reynolds, ? c.1761–6

  • Castle Howard Trewithen

    Unknown Child

    circle of Robert Byng, c.1690–1700