caption

Allan Ramsay, Thomas Hawkins

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)

Details

Country House
Trewithen
Title(s)
Thomas Hawkins
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Overall height: 76.2 cm, Overall width: 63.5 cm
Artist
Allan Ramsay (1713-1784)
Catalogue Number
TN22
Inscription
  • Lower right
  • Signed and dated lower right 'A. Ramsay 1745'

Description

Thomas Hawkins (c.1724–1766) was the older son of Christopher Hawkins (1694–1767) of Trewinnard, near St Erth, and Mary Hawkins (1694–1780) of the Pennans branch of the Hawkins family. In 1738 he inherited the Trewithen estate from his uncle, Philip Hawkins II (1700–1738). Thomas Hawkins was MP for Grampound between 1747 and 1754 and in 1756 he married Anne, the eldest daughter of Ann Sperling and James Heywood, a wealthy wholesale linen-draper of Austin Friars, London. The couple had a daughter, Maria (TN21), and four sons, two of whom died in youth or early manhood, while the other two – Sir Christopher and John (TN46) – went on in turn to inherit Trewithen.

The Scottish artist Allan Ramsay, following his return from his Grand Tour in Italy in 1738, became a leading portrait painter in London. Ramsay’s initial success derived from his innovative reaction to the style and compositions of Kneller. This portrait was made a handful of years before critics such as George Vertue advocated Ramsay as ‘much superior in merit’ to other painters.1 Here, Ramsay depicts Hawkins at half length in an oval, wearing a gold-embroidered waistcoat and blue waistcoat and a cravat. His gaze is imperious, reflecting his social and political position. The oval format, pose and positioning of the clothing and hat are similar to other portraits by Ramsay of this period, such as John Campbell, fourth Earl of Loudoun (fig. 1) and General Sir Henry Erskine.2 Hawkins’s ruddy complexion reveals the artist’s process, modelling the head in a red lake or vermilion ‘mask’, before adding the flesh colour, which Ramsay believed was the technique employed by Titian.3 The neat style of painting was, as Vertue noted, ‘neither broad, grand nor Free’.4 This portrait was made at the same time as the portrait of his father, Christopher Hawkins (TN53), also by Ramsay and also signed and dated 1745.

c. 1747. Oil on canvas, 76.8 x 64 cm. Scottish National Portrait Gallery (PG 2190).

Figure 1.
Allan Ramsay, John Campbell, f4th Earl of Loudoun, c. 1747. Oil on canvas, 76.8 x 64 cm. Scottish National Portrait Gallery (PG 2190).


Digital image courtesy of Scottish National Portrait Gallery/Photo Antonia Reeve. (All rights reserved)

The portrait was listed in the inventory of 1828 as hanging in the Dining Room. The inventory of March 1928 also lists it as hanging there: ‘Allan Ramsay 1713–1784 – Thomas Hawkins of Trewineth M.P. for Grampound B.1724, D.1755, cream vest and white cravat (in vignette) painted 1745’.

by Emily Burns

Bibliography

Alastair Smart, Allan Ramsay: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, ed. ed. John Ingamells, New Haven and London : Yale University Press, 1999, p. 133, no. 252, fig. 192


Footnotes

  1. George Vertue, ‘Note Books III’, August 1751, The Walpole Society, vol. 22, 1934, p. 157.

    1
  2. Smart, 1999, p. 280, no. 333, fig. 248; p. 307, no. 157, fig. 349: 1750, private collection, USA.

    2
  3. Vertue, ‘Note Books III’, p. 96.

    3
  4. Ibid.

    4

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