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Portrait, Historical, British, George Sackville, Joshua Reynolds, Antique Print, London, 1759


Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) (after)
James McArdell (c. 1729-1765) (engraver)
The Right Hon’ble Lord George Sackville
London: 1759
Light pencil inscriptions lower margin: “George Sackville. J. Reynolds. J.M. Ardle” and oval stamp “T.L.”
14 x 11 inches, image
16 x 11 inches, plate mark
17 x 12 inches, overall

Portrait of George Sackville-Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville (1716-1785), an English soldier and politician, engraved after a painting by Joshua Reynolds. The three-quarter-length portrait shows Sackville in fur-trimmed overcoat over a breastplate, wearing a sash and powdered wig, and holding a sword in his left hand. He stands beside a horse whose head is partially in the frame. At the time of the publication of this portrait, Sackville-Germain was serving as a general in the British Army; he later played a role in the American Revolutionary War, serving on the British side.

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This particular imprint is a proof before letters with a scratched title. It was later published with a title and publication credits in the lower margin, an example of which is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria (Australia). The full title on that print also identifies him as “Lieutenant General of His Majesty’s Forces; Lieut’t General of the Ordnance, Colonel of the Second Regiment of Dragoon Guards, Commander in Chief of the British Forces on the Lower Rhine, & One of the Lords of His Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, &c. &c.”

George Sackville-Germain (1716-1785) came from an aristocratic background, the son of the Duke of Dorset. He entered the army and served bravely in the War of Austrian Succession (1745) fighting the French at the Battle of Fontenoy. Promoted to major general in 1755, he served during the Seven Years’ War. In 1759, the same year that this print was published, Sackville was dismissed from the British Army for failure to obey orders in the Battle of Minden during the Seven Years’ War. Nevertheless, he was restored to favor in 1765. After inheriting the Germain estate in 1770, he took the name Germain. Sackville-Germain later played a role in American history as colonial secretary, responsible for conducting British operations against the Colonial Army from Canada to New York during the Revolutionary War. He was held responsible for the poor coordination of the forces that resulted in the British defeat at Saratoga in 1777. After the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781, he was the only cabinet minister in favor of continuing the war, and was dismissed. He was given the title Viscount Sackville and retired from politics in 1782.

Sir Joshua Reynolds was the foremost portrait painter in England in the 18th century, and was extremely influential on later generations of artists. His poses were intended to invoke classical values and to enhance the dignity of his sitters, as is evident in his portrayal in this print. His style incorporated strong lighting, rich color and bravura paint handling. He also made history and “fancy pictures.” As first president of the Royal Academy in London, he significantly raised the profile of art and artists in Britain. Reynolds is also known for his eloquent Discourses on Art, delivered to the students and members of the Academy between 1769 and 1790.

James McArdell was a prolific and esteemed engraver, born in Dublin, who moved to London in 1746 with his master, the engraver John Brooks. By 1750, he had established himself as a mezzotint engraver, where he became the center of a circle of other Dublin engravers who had followed him there, including Richard Houston, Charles Spooner and Richard Purcell. McArdell produced some 200 mezzotints after other artists, mainly portraits. These include prints after Anthony van Dyck, Peter Lely, Joshua Reynolds, Allan Ramsay, Rembrandt, Peter Paul Rubens, William Hogarth, Benjamin Wilson and others.


“George Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville.” National Gallery of Victoria. (1 December 2021).

“James McArdell.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at (2 June 2005).

Russell, Charles E. English Mezzotint Portraits and Their States: Catalogue of Corrections of and Additions to Chaloner Smith’s ‘British Mezzotinto Portraits.’ Vol 2. London: Halton & Truscott Smith, Ltd. New York: Minto, Balch & Co., 1926. 161.

“Sir Joshua Reynolds.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan: 2000. Online at (15 April 2002).

Tikkanen, Amy et al. “George Sackville-Germain, 1st Viscount Sackville.” Britannica. (1 December 2021).

Additional information


18th Century