“A NOBLE GENERAL” CARICATURE PORTRAIT OF GENERAL CHARLES STANHOPE BY ROBERT DIGHTON JUNIOR 1804

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Item Code: 1133-07

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This original hand-colored portrait print portrays a British general standing in full uniform wearing a large bicorne hat, aiguillette over his right shoulder, saber belt and saber with knot, and tall tasseled Hessian boots. It is signed at left bottom, “Dighton 1812,” and titled at bottom center, “Lieut. Genl. MacDonald.” The subject has been occasionally misidentified, but is now recognized to be General Donald MacDonald, 55th Regiment of Foot, who died in 1812, likely the occasion for the issue of the portrait.

Caricature portraits of the notable, whether military, political, theatrical, judiciary, or just social elite, were very popular in the period and often contained some social commentary or satire. The Dighton family, father Robert and three sons, were major producers, with a shop in Charing Cross. In this case, the portrait seems a rather straightforward portrait of the officer. We might point out one element, however, that may allude to a well-known foible of his: he was very much opposed to the circa 1799 new-fangled style of soldiers wearing their bicorne hats fore-and-aft rather than across the head, ear-to-ear. To our eyes angle of the folded brim of the general’s hat on viewer’s right indicates he is wearing it cross-wise, while the angle of the  [sr] [ph:L]

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