Joseph Highmore

British, b.1692, d.1780

Thomas Budgen, MP for Surrey 1751-1761

  • 1735
  • Oil on canvas
  • Purchased, 1977
  • 1410 x 1160 x 75mm
  • 79/289

In 1735, Oxford-educated London sugar baker Thomas Budgen engaged the services of Joseph Highmore, one of London’s most sought-after portrait painters. Budgen’s wealth came from the West Indies through his wife Penelope Smith and his own investments, all directly reliant on slave ownership and plantations on the island of Nevis.

(Out of Time, 23 September 2023 – 28 April 2024)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • The emphasis of this portrait is on the wealth and prestige of the sitter. Joseph Highmore has painted his subject in a highly realistic and refined manner, capturing the textures and colours of the clothing, and the background drapery with care and precision. The influence of Peter Paul Rubens (1577 -1640) can be seen in the lush texture and particular attention to detail. The work is a good example of Highmore’s elegant and sophisticated portrait style. Remarkably, he is reputed to have always painted his faces at a single sitting without retouching them at a later date. Born in London, Highmore was the son of a coal merchant. He originally trained as a lawyer, but by 1715 he was established as a professional portrait painter in London. He was amongst the most accomplished portrait artists of his age and gained a large reputation both in England and the Continent. He retired as a painter in 1761.

    (Gallery opening hang, 2003)