Portrait of the British Prime Minister, who died in 1806. Hoppner had painted a portrait of Pitt, the last painted of him, at the request of the Earl of Mulgrave. It was still in the artist’s studio, waiting to be engraved, when Pitt died. With his death, there were so many sudden requests for more portraits of Pitt that Hoppner used the original to produce a number of copies (see Originals and Copies). He employed the artist Reinagle Jnr. to produce the majority of these duplicates, adding autograph touches of his own at the end. Further copies were made from these copies, by other artists, until ‘Portraits of Pitt by Hoppner’ finally numbered over 20. Whether this is one of Reinagle’s copies or not is uncertain but likely.
With so many versions of the work in existence, it is impossible to trace provenance with any certainty. It is known, however, that Leggatt Bros, Bailey’s main dealers, had one of these copies in 1927, and it is possible that this was the one bought by Bailey.