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Portrait, Mezzotint, Samuel Barrington, Antique Print, London, 1779


Benjamin Wilson (1721-1788) (after)
Richard Earlom (1743-1822) (engraver)
The Honourable Samuel Barrington — Vice Admiral of the Blue
Sayer & Bennett, London: 1779
15 x 11 inches

Samuel Barrington (1729-1800) was a British admiral. As Commander-in-Chief in the West Indies during the American Revolutionary War he captured St Lucia in 1778. Another copy of this print is in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery in London. This portrait was likely painted by Benjamin Wilson when he served as painter to the Board of Ordnance, a civilian body whose powers were defined as “Custodian of the Lands, Depots and Forts required for the Defence of the Realm, and the Supplier of Munitions and Equiptment to the Army and Navy.”

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Benjamin Wilson was an English painter, etcher and scientist, son of a wealthy clothier in York. After his father’s business failed, Wilson moved to London, where he became a clerk and began to study painting. In the late 1740s he lived in Dublin, where he had a successful career as a portrait painter. He returned to London and built up a lucrative portrait practice, which was probably patronized chiefly by Yorkshiremen in London. In 1773, Edward Augustus, Duke of York (1739-67), appointed Wilson painter to the Board of Ordnance.

Richard Earlom was an English printmaker who worked in mezzotint, etching and occasionally stipple. He is known for the mezzotints he contributed to the famous botanical series Temple of Flora (1805) by Robert John Thornton and a set of etchings combined with mezzotint after landscape drawings by Claude Lorrain, which were published by John Boydell.

Over the course of a 50-year career, Robert Sayer (1725-1794) became one of the leading 18th Century publishers of maps, charts, and prints. He also produced prints after George Stubbs, illustrations for novels, books on carpentry, and printed music. His firm was known as Sayer and Bennett from 1774-82.

Condition: Generally very good with the usual toning, wear, soiling, soft creases. A rich impression. Sheet trimmed close to image on sides and top, as is often the case with separately issued 18th-century mezzotint portraits.


“Benjamin Wilson.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at (7 May 2002).

“History of the Ordnance Survey.” (7 May 2002).

Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. U.K.: Devon Library and Information Services. 2001. (7 May 2002).

“NPG D643 Samuel Barrington.” National Portrait Gallery. 2002. (7 May 2002).

“Richard Earlom.” The Grove Dictionary of Art. New York: Macmillan. 2000. Online at (5 March 2002).

Additional information


18th Century