- Museum number
Portrait of the Reverend William Cole; bust with head turned slightly to left, looking to left, wearing wig and gown
Black chalk with red chalk
- Production date
Height: 457 millimetres
Width: 301 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Engraved by Facius in stipple and published May 10th 1809.
Label copy, Portrait display, P&D 2005:
Thomas Kerrich was primarily a scholar, antiquarian and collector. He was appointed Cambridge University librarian in 1797. He was a keen amateur draughtsman throughout his life, with a particular aptitude for portraits and landscapes. This drawing represents his friend William Cole (1714 - 82) also an antiquarian of Cambridge, and a friend and correspondent of Horace Walpole. Both artist and sitter bequeathed their notes and drawings on antiquities to the British Museum.
K.Sloan, 'Noble Art', BM exh cat. 2000, no. 156:
Thomas Kerrich was the son of the Reverend Samuel Kerrich, D.D. of Norfolk. When he graduated from Cambridge in 1771, Thomas Kerrich was awarded a travelling scholarship and spent several months in Antwerp and Paris before going on to Italy. Although he was not training formally as a professional artist, like many young men he attended various academies and universities for brief periods while abroad and in Antwerp was awarded a silver medal for drawing. His surviving drawings indicate he drew from drawing manuals, made academic studies, and sketched figures, sometimes caricatures, from life. He came into contact with the Fuseli circle while in Rome and his series of portraits of himself and his Cambridge associates are of a scale, texture and intensity that is unlike any work by his British contemporaries (several sold Christie's 21 March 1989, lots 81B9). Many of them were engraved by the brothers Facius, including the present portrait of the Reverend William Cole (1714-82), a close friend and correspondent of Walpole, with whom he had attended Eton. Cole shared Kerrich's strong ties with Cambridge and his passion for recording antiquities, leaving all of his notes and drawings to the British Museum where they were later joined by Kerrich's.
While abroad Kerrich was frequently in the company of a Norfolk friend, Thomas Coke (1754-1842) of Holkham, who collected antiquities including gems and casts and brought home a mosaic from the floor of Hadrian's villa. From 1775, he resided in Cambridge, taking over his father's parishes in Norfolk, and in 1797 he was appointed Cambridge University Librarian and elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He had spent most of his life making drawings and plans of early ecclesiastical and military architecture as well as drawings and limnings of ancient costumes and armour from church monuments throughout Britain; he bequeathed 48 volumes of them to the British Museum (now Dept of MSS, British Library). He was also an important print collector, and published one of the earliest catalogues, of the work of Martin van Heemskerck (1498-1574) in 1829, as well as forming a collection of early royal portraits which he bequeathed to the Society of Antiquaries.
As an antiquarian and not a professional artist, he was not confined to contemporary formulae in his drawings, whether of portraits, antiquities or landscapes. A group of the latter, mainly views around Lowestoft and the Suffolk coast drawn in the 1790s, include one oil on panel (Gere collection, on loan to the National Gallery), demonstrate a topographical approach which is so direct and natural that they are more reminiscent of the work of artists a century earlier than the more contrived compositions of his contemporaries like George Beaumont or Dr Monro.
Literature: DNB; John Ingamells, Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers to Italy; Christopher Riopelle and Xavier Bray, 'A Brush with Nature: The Gere Collection of Landscape Oil Sketches', exh. National Gallery, 1999, no. 45
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1974 July-Dec, BM, Portrait Drawings, no.301
1980 Sep-Dec, Orleans House Gallery, 'Horace Walpole & Strawberry Hill'
1984 Jul-Sep, Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Mus, 'Mr. Essex, Architect', (no cat.)
2000 May-Sep, BM P&D, 'A Noble Art', no.156
2005, 7 July-25 Sept, BM, 'Masterpieces of Portrait Drawing' (no cat.)
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- Not known how acquired. It is possible that it came from the bequest from the Rev. T Kerrich recorded in the 'Book of Donations 1823-1837' under 14 June 1828 of manuscripts and drawings of Gothic architecture in England made by himself.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number