Collection Online
George, 1st Marquess Townshend

George, 1st Marquess Townshend
(c. 1801)

oil on wood panel
17.7 × 15.0 cm
Accession Number
International Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Mrs E. Swinburne, 1941
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

Possibly purchased by George Swinburne (1861–1928), in London, during the period 1888–1925, on the advice of Rev. W. G. Beardmore; collection of George and Ethel Swinburne, Shenton, Hawthorn, until 1928; collection of Mrs Ethel Swinburne (d. 1947), Shenton, Hawthorn, 1928–41; by whom donated to the NGV, 1941.

The American born painter Mather Brown went to Europe in 1781 to study and work, and remained there for the rest of his life. This remarkably fresh portrait of George, 1st Marquess of Townshend is a reduced replica of a larger canvas he painted in 1801, which may have been exhibited at the Royal Academy, London. It is thought to have been made by the artist for an engraving by the printmaker known only as Mackenzie published in 1808. Painted rapidly, ‘wet into wet’, it reveals the lively use of paint, and broad handling of detail for which Brown was much admired.


This small-scale oil painting is close to the format of a miniature; the frame is nevertheless a form we might associate with larger-scale paintings. It is essentially a classical revival profile, similar in style to the large-format frame on Tom Roberts’ Louise, daughter of the Hon. L. L. Smith (4647-3), E Phillips Fox’s Henry Giles Turner (654-2) or John Mathers’ Evening Brighton Beach (2003.475). It makes use of a sloping bevel where we might otherwise find the curved and often fluted inner scotia. The closest in form would be the Fletcher frame on the miniature by William Ross: Portrait of Lady Margaret Grosvenor. (665-2). The frame is not likely to be the first framing of the work, dating as it does from the end of the nineteenth century.


1 Hilary Maddocks, ‘Picture Framemakers in Melbourne c. 1860–1930’ in vol. 1, Frames, Melbourne Journal of Technical Studies in Art, University of Melbourne Conservation Service, 1999.

John Thallon
122 Little Collins Street, Melbourne

The frame is made from a simple wooden profile, which is joined with mitres at the corners. There are two small runs of composition ornament – a ribbon and stick at the back edge and a run of beads at the base of the bevel. The gilding has deteriorated throughout. It was possibly matte. There is a deteriorated size layer across the surface.


The surface is deteriorated and discoloured. There are areas of gold coloured paint repair.

33.3 x 30.0 x 5.0 cm; sight 17.0 x 13.8 cm