- Museum number
Portrait of George Keate; head and shoulders, in profile to left, wearing a three-cornered hat
Graphite with pen and ink and grey wash; drawn on an unidentified auction catalogue
- Production date
- 1760-1780 (around)
Height: 60 millimetres
Width: 78 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- This portrait is a thumbnail sketch made by landscape painter Paul Sandby on the margin of an unidentified auction catalogue. Printed text on this drawing indicate that it was done on a catalogue that accompanied an auction of minerals. The British Museum holds four other related portrait sketches (1979,0407.4,5,6; 2017,7068.2). For the series of thumbnail sketches on auction catalogues by Sandby, see curator’s comment for 1979,0407.6. For a similar series of drawings of men attending auctions during this period, see the examples in this collection by John Greenwood (1866,0714.14-29); there is clearly some relation between them, as number 1866,0714.19 (of Dr Fordyce) bears the same style of inscription and appears to be on the same mineral sale catalogue. This raises the question of attribution of the group given to Sandby or of this group given to John Greenwood (1866,0714.14-29). The provenance of both these groups need further investigation.
This is a portrait sketch of the English poet, naturalist, antiquary and amateur artist George Keate F.S.A. F.R.S. R.A. (1729-1797). A founder member of the Society of Artists (1761), he contributed eight paintings to its exhibitions as well as nearly thirty to the Royal Academy. Although never an academician, he joined those who seceded from the Society in 1768 to found the academy, of which he was an honorary exhibitor. His interests respectively in natural history and in antiquarian studies led to his being elected to fellowships of the Royal Society and of the Society of Antiquaries, both in 1766. Keate was also a collector of coins, cameos, gems, shells, minerals and insects, and he commissioned Robert Adam to design an extension at the rear of his property intended to serve as his ‘museum’, housing his noted collection.
A watercolour by George Keate, titled "A View of the fall of the Garigliano at Sora, 50 miles from Naples" and exhibited at the Society of Artists in 1767, is part of the British Museum’s collection (2012,7002.1). The Museum also has an album of two hundred and thirty-two drawings by Keate made during his Grand Tour of France, Italy and Switzerland in 1754-56, with a frontispiece by Robert Adam (see 1878,0209.106).
Bennett, S., 'The Henderson connection. New discoveries about a family of artists and collectors linked to the Society of Arts' (William Shipley Group for RSA History Occasional Paper, 2010)
Sloan, K. 'A Noble Art: Drawing Master and Amateurs, c.1600-1800' (British Museum 2000), no. 123, pp.179-80.
Wainwright, C., ‘The ‘distressed poet’ and his architect: George Keate and Robert Adam’, Apollo, January 1996, pp. 39-44.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2018-2019, Oct 4 – 27 Jan, London, BM G90, New Acquisitions: Gozzoli to Kara Walker
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- This item has an uncertain or incomplete provenance for the years 1933-45. The British Museum welcomes information and assistance in the investigation and clarification of the provenance of all works during that era.
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number