|Title||General George Wade, M.P.|
|Collection||Victoria Art Gallery, Bath|
|Artist||Diest, Johan van (Dutch painter, act. c.1700)|
|Date Earliest||probably 1728|
|Date Latest||probably 1731|
|Description||A full-length portrait of General George Wade. The General appears more youthful than his 55 or so years. He is presented as an imposing military figure, wearing a breast plate and a sword; he holds his command baton in his right hand, and his helmet is set beside him. His attire is luxurious – a dark blue velvet coat, a long red waistcoat trimmed with gold, and high boots; he wears a long grey wig. The light is crepuscular. In the background to the right, a battle ensues in a summary exotic landscape, presumably Spain.|
|Current Accession Number||BATVG:P:1984.16|
|Subject||portrait (General George Wade, M.P.); animal (horse); military and war; landscape|
|Measurements||254 x 152 cm (estimate)|
|Material||oil on canvas|
|Acquisition Details||Transferred from Bath City Council 1984.|
|Provenance||Commissioned from the artist by Bath Corporation 1728.|
|Publications||Corporation Pictures: Stranger's Guide, 1775, p. 45; Farwell, Busts in the Guildhall, Bath, 1907, pp. 11-12; Exhibition of Works by the Old Bath Artists, Bath, 1903, p. 9, cat. no. 13; Sloman, S., ‘General Wade's altar-piece for Bath Abbey: a reconstruction', The Burlington Magazine, CXXXIII, August 1991, pp. 507-10, ill. p. 509; Sloman, S., Victoria Art Gallery: Concise Catalogue of Paintings and Drawings, Bath, 1991, p. 109; Catalogue of Paintings at Guildhall, The Assembly Rooms and Pump Room, Bath, Bath, 1985, p. 8, cat. no. 14.|
|Notes||George Wade (1673-1748) distinguished himself serving in Flanders and Spain. He was promoted to major general (1714), lieutenant-general (1727), field marshal (1743), and finally English commander-in-chief (1745). Wade engaged in anti-Jacobite activities in Bath in 1715, and served as Member of Parliament for Bath from 1722 until his death in 1748. In the early 1720s he built a town house there overlooking the abbey, and also commissioned a London residence from Lord Burlington, modelled on a drawing by Palladio. Between 1724 and 1726 at the command of George I, Wade planned and supervised road-building in the Scottish highlands.
Wade's gift of thirty city councillor portraits and a high altar-piece for Bath Abbey, also commissioned from Johan van Diest, established him as a major benefactor of the city. Eight of the councillor portraits survive (1984.9-15; and 1986.1), as well as the present work. According to old sources, in the period 1766-c.1850 the pictures languished forgotten in a lumber room following the demolition of the old Guildhall, and this is when many were apparently stolen or ruined.
The present portrait was commissioned by the city of Bath. Council minutes, December 12, 1728 record the resolution: ‘by general consent that his Honourable [General Wade] be desired to sit to have his Picture drawn at full length Which shall be at the charge of this Corporation And that such Picture Shall be set up in the Guild Hall of this City.' Minutes, May 10, 1731, record a resolution to ‘pay Mr. Van Diest for the picture of the Right Honourable Lieutenant-General Wade by him lately got up in this Townhall'. Whereas some of the Councillor portraits could be described as almost perfunctory in their execution, the portrait of Wade is altogether more lavish and appears to have received more attention from the artist.
Another portrait of Wade attributed to Johan van Diest is at the National Portrait Gallery, (oil on canvas, NPG 1594). That work was originally three-quarter length but was cut down to an oval; it was identified on the basis of the Bath portrait. There is a mezzotint portrait of George Wade, after Johan van Diest by John Faber Jr., 1736 (National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG14765).
|Rights Owner||Victoria Art Gallery, Bath|
|Author||Dr Susan Steer|