caption

Cyrus Johnson, after James Northcote, William Mudge

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)

Details

Country House
Trewithen
Title(s)
William Mudge
Date
1897
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Overall height: 75 cm, Overall width: 62.5 cm
Artists
Cyrus Johnson (1848-1925), after James Northcote (1746-1831)
Catalogue Number
TN43

Description

According to Stamford Raffles Flint, the painting is a copy made in 1897 by Cyrus Johnson of James Northcote’s portrait of William Mudge, painted in 1804.1 On 20 November 1804 William Mudge wrote to his brother-in-law, Richard Rosdew, about the portrait commission: ‘Northcote has had two sittings from me and has near finished the face. He has put two [sic] much brains in it or behind it. But I perceive the likeness to be extremely strong, and I think the portrait is likely to turn out a very fine one, for he is evidently trying his best’.2 In a list of pictures made in 1804 Northcote recorded in his Account Book: ‘Col.l Wm. Mudge a head – 20. Guineas/ ’.3

It appears, therefore, that Northcote painted two versions of the portrait – one for the sitter, William Mudge, in 1804 and the other for his sister, Jenny Rosdew, the following year. It was presumably the prime version that Northcote exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1805. Its present whereabouts is unknown but it was recorded by Flint in the possession of his cousin, Miss Helen Bogue, great granddaughter of William Mudge. Cyrus Johnson (1848–1925) worked principally as a miniaturist but also painted landscapes and genre paintings. In 1897, Johnson also painted a copy of Thomas Lawrence’s portrait of Jenny Rosdew.4

William Mudge (1762–1820) was the ninth of twenty children of Dr John Mudge and grandson of the Reverend Zachariah Mudge. His godfather was Samuel Johnson, who on the occasion of a visit to see Mudge while training at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, presented him with a guinea and a book.5 In 1779 Mudge became 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery, and served with Lord Cornwallis in South Carolina. On his return to London he trained as a surveyor. In 1798 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. By the early 1800s Mudge was established as one of the most important figures in the establishment of the Ordnance Survey, based at the Tower of London. He also served as lieutenant-governor of the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, the official capacity in which he is presumably represented in the present portrait. In his hand Mudge holds a document inscribed ‘Map of the Coast’, a reference to his mapping of the English coast.

In the inventory of March 1928 the picture was recorded as hanging on the Staircase Hall and described as ‘Half length of Admiral, blue coat red facings and epaulettes holding map of the earth’, which suggests that the identity of the sitter was unknown.

by Martin Postle

Bibliography

Stamford Raffles-Flint, Mudge Memoirs: being a record of Zachariah Mudge, and some members of his family; together with a genealogical list of the same. Compiled from Family Papers & Other Sources, Truro : Netherton & Worth, 1883, p. 130


Stephen Gwynn, Memorials of an Eighteenth Century Painter (James Northcote), London : T. Fisher Unwin, 1898, p. 279, no. 417


Jacob Simon, The Account Book of James Northcote, 58, The Walpole Society, 1996, p. 80


Footnotes

  1. Stamford Raffles Flint, MS notebook, n.d, n.p., Trewithen.

    1
  2. Flint, 1883, p. 130.

    2
  3. Simon, 1996, p. 80.

    3
  4. Flint, who owned the copy by Johnson, states that the original portrait belonged to his cousin, Miss Helen Bogue: Flint, MS notebook.

    4
  5. Flint, 1883, p. 121.

    5

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