Collection Online
The Ulster coat
oil on canvas
71.2 × 30.5 cm
Place/s of Execution
The Briary, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, England
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Frederick Davidson AM and Mary Davidson through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, 2015
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of Digitisation Champion Ms Carol Grigor through Metal Manufactures Limited
Gallery location
19th Century European Paintings Gallery
Level 2, NGV International

Purchased from the artist by Andrew Kinsman Hichens Esq (1834–1906), patron of Watts and husband of the sitter, Mary ‘May’ E. Hichens (1853–1931, nee Prinsep, later Tennyson), 1874; his collection, Monkshatch, Compton near Guildford, Surrey, England, until 1906[1]; by descent to his widow Mary E. Hichens[2]; remained in the Prinsep-Hichens family, until 1973; with Hartnoll & Eyre (dealer), London, 13 February – 2 March 1973, and there exhibited, as Portrait of a Young Lady[3]; from where purchased by Frederick Davidson, 1973; collection of Frederick and Mary Davidson, Melbourne, until 2015; by whom donated to the NGV, 2015.

[1] Not included in the sale of Ancient and Modern Pictures, the collection of Claude A. C. Ponsonby, [and other properties], Christie’s, London, 28 March 1908.

[2] In 1918 Mary Emily Hichens, sometimes called May, married Hallam Tennyson (1852–1928), 2nd Baron Tennyson, son of the poet. Tennyson was the Governor of South Australia 1899–1902 before becoming the second Governor-General of Australia 1903–04. See Hodgkinson, Roma D. 'Tennyson, Hallam (1852–1928)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, The couple had no children. Mary’s son by Andrew Hichens, James Bryn Hichens (d. 1916) was killed in action during the First World War. Another daughter, Helen Mary Hichens (1865–1940), survived her mother.

[3] See Catalogue 28, Hartnoll & Eyre (dealer), London, 13 February – 2 March 1973, no. 4, as Portrait of a Young Lady

This painting of a female figure dressed in a heavy overcoat is a small version of G. F. Watts’s large, full length portrait of May Hichens (nee Prinsep), 1853–1931. The larger painting which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1879 with the title Mrs Andrew Hichens, and is now in the Manchester Art Gallery. The distinctive outdoor garb worn by the sitter in this painting has lent the painting its title, The Ulster coat.


The frame is in the eponymous style of the painter.

Unknown - 19th century

Minor restoration otherwise good original condition