The British Gallery Of Contemporary Portraits, Being A Series Of Engravings Of The More Eminent Persons Now Living Or Lately Deceased In Great Britain and Ireland: From Drawings Accurately Made From Life, Or From The Most Approved Original Pictures. Accompanied By Short Biographical Notices. Vol. I. (II.)

RA Collection: Book

Record number



London:: Printed For T. Cadell And W. Davies, Strand, Booksellers To The Academy, By J. McCreery, Black-Horse Court., 1813.(-1822.)

Physical Description

3 vols.; 518 mm. (Folio).

General Note

Vol. I: [iv], xi, [120] p., [60] pl. - Vol. II (1813): [ii, 120] p., [60] pl. - Vol. II (1822): [ii, 60] p., [30] pl.


Vol. I: [T.p.] - Advertisement - Preface - [Plates, with texts]. - Vol. II (1813): [T.p.] - [Plates, with texts]. - Vol. II (1822): [T.p.] - [Plates, with texts].

Responsibility Note

The plates give the names of the source-artists, draughtsmen and engravers. The draughtsmen were W. Evans, J. Wright, H. Edridge, M. Haughton, I. Downman, C. Wilkin, J. Jackson, A. Pope, W.M. Craig, G.F. Joseph, J.B. Lane. The engravers were A. Cardon, W. Evans, H. Meyer, C. Picart, J. Godby, T. Cheesman, K. Mackenzie, Miss M. Bourlier, L. Schiavonetti, C. Bestland, G. Bartolozzi, J. Vendramini, H. Landseer, J.S. Agar, C. Wilkin, E. Scriven, S. Freeman, W. Bond, E. Bocquet, R. Cooper, B. Smith, J.B. Lane, W.T. Fry.

Each plate carries the publishers' imprint (in most cases that of T. Cadell and W. Davies; in the latest numbers that of T. Cadell only). The publisher, W. Davies, died in 1820 and his name does not appear on the title-page of the second 'Volume II' (1822).

Summary Note

The 'Advertisement' in Volume I states, 'This Work will form a series of Portraits ... A Number is published every two Months, containing six Portraits, each accompanied by a short Biographical Notice ... in Atlas Quarto ... and in Imperial Folio, with Proof Impressions of the Plates ... left unnumbered, in order that each Subscriber may form his own arrangement ... A few of each Portrait are taken off for separate sale ...'. The three volumes carry the following dates of publication: Volume I, 1813; Volume II, 1813; the third volume (numbered on its title-page as Volume II), 1822. But it is evident from the dates on the plates that publication began on 1 March 1809. As foreseen by the writer of the Advertisement the Academy made its own arrangement of the plates, not following the chronologic order of publication. Its volume I contains plates dated from 1809 March 1 to 1812 April 2; its Volume II (1813), plates dated from 1809 March 1 to 1815 July 1; and its Volume II (1822), plates dated from 1815 September 7 to 1822 August 31.

The contents of the first volume are listed in the 'Advertisement' as ten groups of six portraits. There are no lists bound in for the sixty portraits of Volume II (1813) or the thirty of Volume II (1822). The plates are all captioned, and are accompanied by printed biographic text. They show members of the royal family, nobility, bishops, admirals, politicians, writers, artists and others, and include some Royal Academicians (Sir Joshua Reynolds, P. Sandby, T. Gainsborough, J. Barry and Sir Francis Bourgeois in Vol. I; J. Hoppner, P.J. de Loutherbourg, B. West, H. Tresham, R. Smirke, Sir William Beechey, J. Farington, T. Stothard, D. Wilkie in Vol. II (1813); J. Northcote, J. Nollekens, M.A. Shee, H. Thomson and G. Romney in Vol. II (1822)).


The first two Numbers were presented to the Academy by the publishers on 3 July 1809 (RAA Council Minutes, IV, 133); No. 14 on 19 June 1813 (RAA Council Minutes, V, 54, 1813 June 19); another Number on 15 July 1814 (RAA Council Minutes, V, 170, 1814 July 15).

Binding Note

19th-century calf, gilt borders on upper and lower covers; rebacked in 20th century, spine lettered 'Contemporary Portraits Vol. I. (II.) (II.) R.A. 1813 (1813) (1822)'.


Celebrities - Great Britain - History - 19th century
Portraits - Biographies - Great Britain - 19th century
Pictorial works - 19th century


Thomas Cadell the younger, publisher
William Davies, publisher
John McCreery, printer
W. Evans, draughtsman, engraver
John Wright, draughtsman
Henry Edridge ARA, draughtsman
Moses Haughton the younger, draughtsman
John Downman ARA, draughtsman
Charles Wilkin, draughtsman, engraver
John Jackson RA, draughtsman
Alexander Pope, draughtsman
William Marshall Craig, draughtsman
Antoine Cardon, engraver
Henry Hoppner Meyer, engraver
Charles Henry Picart, engraver
James Godby, engraver
Thomas Cheesman, engraver
K. Mackenzie, engraver
Miss M. Bourlier, engraver
Luigi Schiavonetti, engraver
Cantlo Bestland, engraver
Gaetano Stefano Bartolozzi, engraver
Giovanni Vendramini, engraver
Henry Landseer, engraver
Agar, John Samuel, engraver
Edward Scriven, engraver
Samuel Freeman, engraver
George Francis Joseph ARA, draughtsman
John Bryant Lane, draughtsman, engraver
William Bond, engraver
E. Bocquet, engraver
Robert Cooper, engraver
Benjamin Smith, engraver
William Thomas Fry, engraver