George Perfect Harding, notes on portraits and paintings

Scope and Content

The four volumes appear to be connected with George Perfect Harding as they record portraits and pictures copied by him. The first three volumes share the title 'List of Portraits, Pictures in Various Mansions of the United Kingdom', they also contain the following description 'those that are marked thus X, have been copyed by G. P. Harding'. It's assumed there was more than one creator of the volumes as there are various dates recorded within the volumes the first volume contains a date of 1804 on the title page which suggests that the list was begun around this date; an insert dated 1854 reveals that the list continued to be updated after Harding's death. A date of 1858 is also to be found on the first page of content of each of the volumes.

A detailed synopsis of the first three volume's contents is as follows:

Volume I - The information in this volume is handwritten; there is a list of contents arranged alphabetically by the name of the property. Properties featured include Arundel Castle; Buckingham Palace; Chiswick House; Greenwich Hospital; Holland House; Kensington Palace; Longleate (Longleat); Secretary of States Office; St James' Palace; Windsor Castle and Woburn Abbey. The entry for each property gives details of its location (usually which city, town or county it was situated in) and the owner. The descriptions of the portraits describe the subject and the name of the artist is given when known. In some cases the location of where the portrait is hung in the property has been given, i.e. drawing room. There is an index of sitters at the back of the volume.

Volume II - The information in this volume is handwritten; there is a list of contents arranged alphabetically by the name of the property. Properties featured include several of the London Livery Companies as well as the Antiquarian Society; Fulham Palace; Hatfield; Holyrood Palace; Lambeth Palace; Royal Society; Strawberry Hill and Warwick Castle. The entry for each property gives details of its location (usually which city, town or county it was situated in) and the owner. The descriptions of the portraits describe the subject and the name of the artist is given when known. There is an index of sitters at the back of the volume.

Volume III - The information in this volume is handwritten in what seems to be at least two different hands; there is a list of contents arranged alphabetically by the name of the property. Properties featured include the Cambridge and Oxford Colleges as well as Althorpe; Blenheim; the British Museum; Castle Howard; Devonshire House and Hampton Court Palace. The descriptions of the portraits describe the subject and the name of the artist is given when known. There is an index of sitters at the back of the volume, at the front of the index there is an insert titled 'Pictures at Longford Castle, opinion of G. P. Harding.'
The fourth volume is titled 'List of Manuscripts and Printed Books Illustrated with Drawings of Portraits etc.' The contents are again handwritten. It contains lists of various illustrated publications including some which George Perfect Harding contributed to, as well as copies made from exhibition catalogues and publications. The second half of the volume contains a transcript of an account of pictures in possession of the crown in the time of Queen Anne taken from a book given to Horace Walpole in 1775 and which he appeared to have annotated over time. The copy includes some annotations in a red ink which are assumed to have been made by the creator of the volume when they copied the original.

Administrative / Biographical History

George Perfect Harding (1779/80-1853) was born in Town Malling, Kent, the son of Silvester Harding (also a miniature painter) and his wife, Sarah. Harding is likely to have been taught by his father and first exhibited work at the Royal Academy in 1802. Two years later he painted a miniature self-portrait in which he wears the uniform of the Royal York Marylebone volunteers - the portrait is today in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, NPG 4615. He continued to exhibit portraits at the Royal Academy, exhibiting eighteen in total by 1840, and also twice exhibited at the Society of British Artists.

Harding specialised in creating minute copies in watercolour of works of historical and antiquarian interest many of which were used to illustrate historical works. In 1825 he published 'Antiquities in Westminster Abbey: ancient oil paintings and sepulchral brasses, engraved from drawings by G. P. Harding, with an historical biographical and heraldic description, by T. Moule'. He also produced the privately printed 'The princes of Wales' which was an elaborately illustrated manuscript.

Harding married twice, his first wife Mary Ann he married either before or during 1803 when Harding's father Silvester painted a portrait of her which is held by the National Portrait Gallery, NPG 4615a. They had a daughter Eleanor Jane. Harding's second wife was Charlotte Brown who he married in 1834, they had two children Georgina and Catherine.

Harding became a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1839 but withdrew in 1847. He was founding member of the Granger Society in 1840 which aimed to publish previously un-engraved historical portraits however the Society folded in 1843. The later years of Harding's life saw him struggle financially and he was reduced to selling his accumulated works at auction. He died at age seventy-three on 23 December 1853.

This biographical description is largely based on F. M. O'Donoghue, 'Harding, George Perfect (1779/80-1853)', rev. Mervyn Cutten, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2011 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/12259, accessed 17 Jan 2017]

Access Information

Available to view by appointment in the Heinz Archive and Library Public Study Room, to make an appointment contact Archive Reception . Although records are generally available for public consultation, some information in them, such as personal data or information supplied to the Gallery in confidence, may be restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Personal photography is permitted for research purposes only. Photocopying is not permitted.