- Museum number
Portrait of John Buckner, Bishop of Chichester; three-quarter length seated turned to front, head inclined forward and turned slightly l, wearing surplice and holding cap in his left hand, glimpse of sky through window l. 1816
- Production date
Height: 182 millimetres
Width: 148 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- The following text is from S. Lloyd and K. Sloan, 'The Intimate Portrait' (exh. SNPG & BM, 2008-9), cat. no. 134:
Uwins began his career as an engraver but began to exhibit portraits in watercolours at the Royal Academy from 1799 and was also an illustrator. He made the original watercolours of Academic Costume for ‘A History of the University of Cambridge’ published by Ackermann, London, 1815 and a companion volume for Oxford. The drawings were all engraved by J Agar. Many of them were purchased by the BM at Uwins sale with some landscapes. Many of the academic costumes were posed in academic interiors and most were full-length, but as costume studies they were less finished than the present portrait which is the type he exhibited. Larger than miniatures and with a finish comparable to oils, they were perfect to fill the growing market for portraits that were not as large or expensive as oils but with their formality and as capable of being framed and hung.
Uwins became a full member of the Water-colour Society in 1810 and over the next eight years exhibited over ninety works at their annual exhibitions, including this portrait of Buckner in 1817 (no. 143). A large debt near the end of the decade forced him to focus on miniatures and illustrations and in 1820 he moved to Edinburgh to establish a lucrative business in watercolour portraits. He set out for Italy in 1824, where his work changed dramatically and he focussed on landscapes and genre paintings, mainly in oil. His great success on his return seven years later led to his appointments as Librarian of the Royal Academy, then from 1845 as Surveyor of Queen's Pictures and from 1847 Keeper of National Gallery.
John Buckner was educated at Charterhouse school and then Clare College Cambridge. He was Bishop of Chichester from 1797-1824. As is usual for portraits of bishops, Uwins depicts him wearing 'convocation dress', the clothing worn out of doors, while preaching, at Court or in the House of Lords. In his hand he holds a mortar board College cap with the skull cap attached, part of the dress but usually shown in the hand as here. Bishops did not stop wearing wigs until the 1830s. There is another portrait of Buckner in a similar pose by James Northcote, painted in 1818 and exhibited at the Academy in 1819 (200) (engraved by S. W. Reynolds in 1818, now in Bishop's Palace, Chichester (Ingamells 1981)). The small portrait by Uwins is more intimate simply by the tilt of the head towards the viewer and the church interior, instead of dark drapery and blank background of Northcote’s portrait where the bishop stares blankly into the distance. It is not clear why this drawing would have remained with the artist.
SELECTED LITERATURE: LB 19; D. Foskett, ‘Dictionary of British Miniature Painters’, 1972; J. Ingamells, ‘The English Episcopal Portrait 1559-1835’, London, 1981, pp.134-5; L. Herrmann, ‘Thomas Uwins RA’ in ‘Connoisseur’, April 1965, pp. 236-41, fig. 1
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2008/9 Oct-Jan, Edinburgh, SNPG, 'The Intimate Portrait', no. 134
2009 Mar-May, London, BM, Room 90, 'The Intimate Portrait', no. 134
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number