National Gallery of Art - THE COLLECTION
image of The Hoppner Children John Hoppner (artist)
British, 1758 - 1810
The Hoppner Children, 1791
oil on canvas
overall: 152.5 x 127 cm (60 1/16 x 50 in.)
Widener Collection
1942.9.35
Not on View
From the Tour: British and American Grand Manner Portraits of the 1700s
Object 5 of 12

John Hoppner exhibited this engaging portrait of his own three sons at the Royal Academy in 1791. Preparing to bathe in a brook, seven-year-old Catherine Hampden unbuttons his jacket. As the eldest brother, he stands with dignity and greets the viewer. Richard, already undressed, looks adoringly up at Catherine, while baby Wilson struggles gamely to undo his frock. As adults, the older boys had political and diplomatic careers; the baby became a painter.

John Hoppner, something of a prodigy, won the Royal Academy's gold medal for the best painting of the year when he was only twenty-three. Hoppner's father was a German-born surgeon to the British court. The artist himself, however, encouraged rumors that he was the illegitimate son of King George III. Such association with royalty, even though dubious, elevated him in society and boosted his career.

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