A lovely portrait of Sir William Knighton(1776-1836) Private Secretary to King George IV
A lovely portrait of Sir William Knighton(1776-1836) Private Secretary to King George IV

GEORGE ENGLEHEART (1752-1829)

A lovely portrait of Sir William Knighton(1776-1836) Private Secretary to King George IV

1821 United Kingdom

Offered by Ellison Fine Art

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George Engleheart
A fine portrait of Sir William Knighton (1776-1836) Private Secretary to George IV, wearing blue coat and the Royal Guelphic Order of Knight Commander (KCH)
Enamel, In gold frame with black and white enamel decoration, the pierced border set with four thistles, the bracelet formed as six gold serpents with white and black decoration and cabochon ruby heads

Knighton began his career as a general practitioner in Devon, by 1803 he was in London, having married, in 1800, Dorothea, the youngest daughter of Captain James Hawker.
In 1806 he was admitted a licentiate of Royal College of Physicians. By this time he had already made his acquaintance with the Marquess of Wellesley, whom he attended as domestic physician on his embassy to Spain in 1809. Wellesley introduced him to the Prince of Wales in 1810 as a result he became the Prince’s physician and baronet in 1812.
By 1821 he was regularly dining “tete a tete” with the Regent, now George IV. Knighton recalled in his diary

“I was now beginning to be made his Confidential Friend in all those secret concerns which a life of pleasure and sensuality had exposed him to “
After having accompanied the King on his visit to Hanover in 1821, Knighton was awarded the Royal Guelphic Order of Knight Commander, for his service as physician to the King, the badge for which is depicted in this enamel.
In 1822 Knighton gave up his lucrative medical practice to devote himself to the King’s service, having been officially appointed keeper of the privy purse in succession to Sir Benjamin Bloomfield. He functioned as unofficial private secretary for the duration of the King’s reign.
On Wednesday, 16 October 1822 Knighton wrote to Sir Thomas Lawrence, informing him that the King wished to see Lawrence at breakfast on Saturday morning. Knighton asked if he might sit for Lawrence on the Friday, and offered to take Lawrence to Windsor in his carriage on Saturday. [Royal Academy Library).
Interestingly Lawrence’s portrait of Knighton does not show him wearing any Order of Merit, despite the fact that he had already been awarded the K.C.H. The absence of an order suggests that Lawrence’s portrait was not complete until 1823 when Knighton was awarded Knights Grand Cross (G.C.H). In some instances Orders were not always ready for presentation as was the case when Bloomfield ( the King’s previous keeper of the privy purse) received his.

In her Dictionary of Miniature Painters, Daphne Foskett states, that whilst no enamels by Engleheart were known at the time of writing, she said that she had seen his artist’s equipment which contains numerous enamelled plates on which he had experimented with various colours. Dr. Williamson refers to at least two works in this medium and there is an entry in Engleheart’s fee book for 10 December 1778 a lady copied in enamel.

So this would appear to be proof that Engleheart did paint enamels. In 1809 there is an entry in Engleheart’s ledger that a Dr. Knighton, Mrs. Knighton and Miss Knighton all sat for him.
The fact that Knighton is described in the fee book as Dr. and not Sir, would suggest that he originally sat for the portrait as early as 1809 but that it might not have been completed until 1821 when he was awarded the prestigious honour of Royal Guelphic Order of Knight Commander, for his service as physician to the King.




I wish to thank Charlotte Frost, the Biographer of Sir William Knighton and Erika Speel, author of Dictionary of Enamelling for their input in the cataloguing of this enamel
Excellent
Dimensions
Height 1.50 inch (3.81 cm)
Stock Code
2473
Medium
enamel on copper
Ellison Fine Art

Ellison Fine Art
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