Art Properties has loaned a painting to the exhibition The Battle of Brooklyn which is now open at The New-York Historical Society. This exhibition commemorates the decisive first battle that took place between the rebel forces and the British following the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Although the American forces suffered a tremendous defeat, this battle became a decisive moment in the military campaign led by Washington and his troops.
The painting loaned by Art Properties is this whole-length portrait of King George III (1738-1820), the reigning British monarch during the American Revolution. Painted by Sir William Beechey (1753-1839) and his studio, the portrait depicts the monarch wearing the Field-Marshal uniform of a red coat adorned with the Star of the Garter, white breeches, black boots, and a black bicorn hat. In his right hand he holds a cane and in his left a pair of gloves. He stands in a landscape with Windsor Castle in the distance. This portrait is one of a number produced by Beechey’s studio after the success of the original life-size version exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1800.
George III was the grandson of George II, the eponymous founder of King’s College. This portrait was donated to Columbia in 1943 by Mrs. Mary Hill Hill, who claimed to have purchased it in England. Remnants of a label on the stretcher, however, also identify the painting as the same sold at the April 2, 1931 auction by American Art Association of works owned by Ehrich Gallery in New York. The purchaser at that time was recorded as a Miss M. Brown. The description of the painting in the catalogue incorrectly describes it as depicting the king as the Prince of Wales and the building in the background as Hatfield House. George III had been king since 1760, so the painting would not depict him as the Prince of Wales at that time, and a visual comparison of images of Hatfield House clearly shows that they are different buildings and that ours is Windsor Castle. There is other evidence that the same painting was sold at a Christie’s London auction in 1926, but its provenance prior to that date is still undetermined.