William Hogarth
Portrait of George Osborne, later John Ranby Jnr c.1748–50

Artwork details

William Hogarth 1697–1764
Portrait of George Osborne, later John Ranby Jnr
Date c.1748–50
Medium Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions Support: 630 x 565 mm
frame: 800 x 738 x 65 mm
Acquisition Presented by Mrs Gilbert Cousland 1996 to celebrate the Tate Gallery Centenary and the Hogarth Tercentenary 1997
Not on display


George Osborne (1743-1820) was the natural son of John Ranby F.R.S. (1703-73), Principal Sargeant Surgeon to George II and to the Chelsea Hospital. Ranby was a friend and neighbour of the Hogarths at Chiswick. The identity of George's mother is unknown. He was brought up as Ranby's heir and changed his name to John Ranby by royal licence in 1756. He went to Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge and was admitted to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1762. Ranby junior was the author of a number of pamphlets, including Doubts on the Abolition of the Slave Trade (1791) and Short Hints on a French Invasion (1794). He married Mary Goate. Ranby died at Bury St Edmunds.

This portrait is a pair to Hogarth's Hannah, Daughter of John Ranby, Tate Gallery no.T07122. Both have elaborate painted stone surrounds. In Hannah's portrait the surround overlies a more simple oval one, whereas in her brother's the surround was always as we see it today. This suggests that Hogarth reworked Hannah's portrait so that its surround matched the one in the boy's portrait, and therefore that Hannah's portrait was painted first.

Further reading:
Elizabeth Einberg, Manners & Morals: Hogarth and British Painting 1700-1760, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery 1987, pp.204-5, reproduced in colour p.205
Elizabeth Einberg, Hogarth the Painter, exhibition catalogue, Tate Gallery 1997, p.49, reproduced in colour

Leslie Parris
June 1997