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N01224 Samuel Scott c.1731–3
Oil on canvas 1220×978 (48×38 9/16)
Purchased by the National Gallery 1886; transferred to the Tate Gallery 1913
PROVENANCE ...; R.T. Simpson, by whom sold to the National Gallery
EXHIBITED Samuel Scott Bicentenary, Guildhall Art Gallery 1972 (94); Kenwood 1979 (4, repr.)
LITERATURE Evelyn Davies, ‘The Life and Work of Thomas Hudson’, MA thesis, Courtauld Institute, 1938, no.94; J.D. Prown, John Singleton Copley, 1966, I, p.61, fig.221; Miles 1976, no.165; Kerslake 1977, I, p.244, II, fig.714
This informal portrait of Samuel Scott (1702–72), painter of marine and later of Thames-side London views, can be dated to around 1731–3 from a mezzotint of it by John Faber (see Chaloner Smith 1883, no.319). It is thus one of Hudson's earliest known portraits, as well as one of his most relaxed, showing his almost exactly coeval fellow-artist leaning on the back of a chair, holding a drawing of ships, in a knee-length pose which minimises Scott's well-known shortness of stature.
Hudson and Scott were at this time at the very beginning of their careers, and it has been suggested that the mezzotint may have been intended as a form of advertisement for them both in a concerted effort to build up patronage in their respective branches of painting. It is interesting to note that the accounts of the Courtenay family (who were lifelong patrons of Hudson) at Powderham Castle, Devon, record payments to Hudson for several sea-pieces in 1728 and 1737, and to Scott in 1739 (Miles & Simon 1979; no.4). No marine paintings by Hudson are known, and it is thus difficult to say whether at this early stage he was a rival to Scott, or a middleman for him. The latter would seem more likely, both in view of Hudson's unswerving devotion to portrait painting, and of the fact that in the 1730s he was also willing to occupy himself with other sidelines of the painting profession such as picture cleaning and restoration. In later life both painters crowned their professional success by acquiring villas in Twickenham, where they were near neighbours from 1755 onwards; Hudson's sale of 25 February 1785 shows that he owned at least two sea-pieces by Scott.
The pose of this portrait was adapted from Faber's engraving by J.S. Copley for his portrait of John Amory (Boston Museum of Fine Arts).
Elizabeth Einberg and Judy Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675-1709, Tate Gallery Collections, II, London 1988