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Originals and Copies

Portrait-painting in the 18th and early 19th centuries was a major industry. Often, a number of copies were made of a portrait, either for relatives of the sitter, or for friends and admirers. These copies were sometimes made by the original artist but were sometimes products of his 'studio', largely the work of assistants, with finishing touches by the master. In a world where paintings were often collaborative efforts, this kind of practice was very much taken for granted, in contrast to our modern anxiety about originality in art.

Many of the portraits in the Bailey collection constitute one of two or more versions of the same work. One example is Hoppner's Portrait of William Pitt [1582], probably largely the work of Reinagle Jnr. whom Hoppner employed to produce the many copies of the original that were suddenly commissioned on Pitt's death. Other examples from the collection are Portrait of Mrs Whitefoord by Opie or Hoppner [1624], three works by Raeburn, Portrait of Duke of Hamilton [1646], Portrait of Lt. Gen. Hay Macdowall [1589], Portrait of William Ferguson and his Son [1593], Reynolds' Portrait of Earl of Eglinton [1659], and Romney's Portrait of Lady Greville [1604].



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