Portrait of George Marsh Commissioner of the Navy (1722-1800)
Painted by the artist Benjamin Wilson (1721-1788)
Benjamin Wilson was born 21 June 1721. He was brought up in York but moved to London initially taking up a job as a legal clerk. Somewhere along the way he met up with the artist William Hogarth (1697-1764) who encouraged him to take up painting. Benjamin developed an excellent talent as a portrait painter and painted much of London Society. He also spent some time in Dublin painting portraits. The Duke of York and Albany, appointed him ‘Painter to the Board of Ordnance’. George Marsh working for the Navy presumably had some contacts on the Board of Ordnance and maybe through one of these he met up with Benjamin. As they were both of a very similar age perhaps they were good friends.
Benjamin would have painted this portrait of George before 1777 as it is generally assumed that Benjamin did not produce much after this date. In 1777 George would have been 55 years old but in the painting he does look much younger than 55. George would not have had much money before the mid 1760 so we can probably assume that the painting was done somewhere around 1770 when George would have been in his late 40s to mid 50s.
Two of Benjamin’s pupils were Richard Brompton and Johann Zoffany. Benjamin died 6 June 1788, just before his 67th birthday.
I understand that this portrait was sold at auction (where unknown) on 16th of March 1984.
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