Home » Uncategorized » Thoughts on Sir Martin Archer Shee’s portrait of John, Second Earl of Chatham

Thoughts on Sir Martin Archer Shee’s portrait of John, Second Earl of Chatham

theironduchess said: I like the portrait of John (by Martin Archer Shee) having a bad-hair day the best

What, this one?

File:John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham (1756-1835) by Martin Archer Shee.jpg

(From here)

Hmmm, I’m not keen. I know this was my avatar for ages, but the reasons I don’t like it are the following:

1) He’s having a terribly bad hair day, as you mention (John, John, John … I know you like to keep abreast of fashion, but why does your hair have to look like you’ve just inserted yourself into an electrical circuit?)

2) He looks like he’s thinking “………. Why the heck am I here? I’m not sure I like the artist and he seems to be painting me with a very funny expression on my face” (and there’s a nice recursive reference there for you)

3) The eyes are WRONG wrong wrong WRONG (where’s the Grenville sleepy-eyed look that we all know and love?! Unless he’d had his coffee that day!)

4) The mouth … ditto (John had his father’s mouth, not this tiny cupid’s bow affair)

I actually don’t think it looks much like him at all … although I guess, given I have never actually met him in person (and I’m never going to unless I get my hands on that time machine), this could be the most accurate of all the portrayals. I have a feeling it was painted in 1786 when John was in Ireland for a few weeks, so maybe it was done quite hurriedly on a spur-of-the-moment decision after a night on the lash with the Duke of Rutland (would explain the expression anyway). But I just don’t like it. Sorry.

Mostly it’s the hair.

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