Joseph Highmore

Head of James Harris of Salisbury

In Tate Britain

Prints and Drawings Room

View by appointment
Joseph Highmore 1692–1780
Ink and watercolour on paper
Support: 196 × 125 mm
Presented by Mrs Joan Highmore Blackhall and Dr R.B. McConnell 1986

Catalogue entry

[from] Works on Paper and Vellum [T04173-T04237 and T04318-T04319]

Various media and sizes
Presented by Mrs Joan Highmore Blackhall and Dr Rosemary B. McConnell 1986
Prov: By descent from the artist to the donors
Lit: C.R. Beard, ‘Highmore's Scrap-Book’, Connoisseur, vol.93, 1934, pp.290–7, ‘Highmore's Drawings for Pine's Processions and Ceremonies’, Connoisseur, vol.94, 1934, pp.9–15; Alison S. Lewis, Joseph Highmore 1692–1780, PhD thesis, Harvard 1975 (University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor 1980), I, pp.230–1, II, pp.650–6, 659, III, figs.263–77, 279; E. Einberg and J. Egerton, The Age of Hogarth: British Painters Born 1675–1709, Tate Gallery Collections, 11, 1988, pp.64–71, all but last six repr.; Warren Mild, Joseph Highmore of Holborn Row, Ardmore 1990

All sheets have been irregularly cut; maximum dimensions only are given. All inscriptions, unless otherwise stated, are in pen and ink, and are thought to have been written by the artist's grandson Anthony Highmore (1758–1829).

The Highmore Gift, of which this is a part, is a collection of sketches, drawings, watercolours, engravings and some family papers which descended from the artist through the late Sir Anthony Highmore King, CBE, to the donors. The papers concern mostly nineteenth-century members of the family, but include Joseph Highmore's Paris Journal of 1734, published by Elizabeth Johnston, Walpole Society, vol.42, 1970, pp.61–104. The following items have been removed for conservation reasons from a scrap-book into which they had been pasted, in no particular order, by Sir Anthony Highmore King's grandmother Anna King, together with works by Susanna Duncombe (née Highmore) and later members of the family, as well as photographs, tracings and other fragments now in the Tate Gallery Archive. Nineteen drawings by Joseph Highmore for John Pine's twenty-plate set of engravings depicting the revival of the Order of the Bath, published in 1730, were sold from the King collection to Lord Fairhaven sometime after 1934 and are on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

T04223 Profile Head of James Harris of Salisbury c. 1750–65

Pencil, pen and brown wash on paper 121 × 82 (4 3/4 × 3 1/4) pasted on paper 197 × 125 (7 3/4 × 4 15/16)

Inscribed ‘James Harris Esq: of | Salisbury’ along top of drawing and ‘Jos: Highmore | From the Author’ on upper half of larger sheet

Lit: Beard 1934, vol.93, pp.294–6, figs.XII, XIII; Lewis 1975, II, pp.427–9, 651, no.35

James Harris (1709–80), author, amateur musician, Member of Parliament for Christchurch, was a man of considerable wealth. In 1744 he published a volume of three treatises on Art; Music, Painting, and Poetry; and Happiness; this drawing is said by Beard to be pasted on the flyleaf of the second (1765) edition of the book, which the author gave to Highmore, himself a writer on the theory and practice of painting. Highmore's three-quarter-length portraits of Harris and his wife Elizabeth Clarke, painted roundabout the time of their marriage in 1745, and another of Mrs Harris and their son James, signed and dated 1748, are still in the possession of their descendants, the Earls of Malmesbury. This drawing shows a man somewhat older than the painting, but not as old as the very similar profile head in a wax medallion executed by Isaac Gosset in 1776. A date corresponding with that of the gift is therefore possible.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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