George Anson, 1st Baron Anson, Admiral of the Fleet, 1697-1762

A three-quarter-length portrait to right wearing a blue coat and red waistcoat. Both are richly frogged with gold lace and gold buttons, and white lace froths at the cuffs and collar. Anson wears a grey bag-wig, and his hat is visible under his left arm. His right hand rests on the corner of a table on which is a rolled up scroll and book, or charts. The table is marble-topped with ornate gilt carved legs. He stands against a background of carved swags on the far left and distant shipping on the right.

Although Hudson painted several portraits of Anson and his wife, this example does not closely resemble them. Anson, commanding the 'Centurion', circumnavigated the world on a raiding voyage against Spanish interests in the Pacific in 1740-44 and in 1743 became a wealthy man as a result of capturing the Spanish treasure ship 'Nuestra Senora de Covadonga' off the Philippines. Later in command of the Channel fleet he defeated the French at the first Battle of Finisterre, 1747, after which he was raised to the peerage and married Elizabeth Hardwicke, whose father Philip was the Lord Chancellor of England. He was subsequently involved in administrative and dockyard reforms, including introduction of officer's uniform in 1748 and revisions of the Articles of War. His two terms as First Lord of the Admiralty, 1751-56 and 1757-62 contributed significantly to the victories of the Seven Years War. His last sea-going service was in 1758 and he became Admiral of the Fleet in 1761. Shugborough Hall, the magnificent Staffordshire house which he originally built with his Spanish prize money, is now owned by the National Trust and also preserves various paintings and other relics relating to his career, although other items formerly there are also now in the Museum collection.

This portrait has always been identified as Anson, though not on grounds other than tradition and appearance - which is younger than many other portraits of him. Allan Ramsey has also been a previous suggestion for authorship. It has hitherto been recorded as of about 1751, but the fact the sitter is not in official Naval uniform suggests it was painted before Anson himself introduced it in 1748 and probably while he was still a captain. The most striking additional feature is its magnificent contemporary frame, carved and gilded with trophies of naval arms and navigation, which is presumed to be the original one.

Object Details

ID: BHC2517
Collection: Fine art
Type: Painting
Display location: Not on display
Creator: Hudson, Thomas
Date made: before 1748
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection
Measurements: Frame: 1730 mm x 1300 mm x 220 mm;Painting: 1270 mm x 1015 mm

Your Request

If an item is shown as “offsite”, please allow eight days for your order to be processed. For further information, please contact Archive staff:

Tel: (during Library opening hours)

Click “Continue” below to continue processing your order with the Library team.