Unknown (British, 18th century)
Oil on canvas, 76.4 x 63.5 cm.
Presented by G.R. Nash, 1870
National Gallery of Victoria (302.17-1)
Described when it was acquired as a portrait of a certain Richard Nash by Sir Joshua Reynolds, this painting was listed in NGV 1875 and subsequent catalogues simply as a portrait of an unknown gentleman by an unknown painter.
Hoff (1995) catalogued it as “British, mid-18th century,” and suggested a date in the 1760s, on the basis of the clothing of the sitter (presumably an ancestor of the donor).
Regarding the identity and garb of the sitter, his drab attire makes it inherently unlikely that he was the famous Bath dandy, Richard “Beau” Nash (1674-1761), well-known for his extravagant costumes, as displayed for instance in the Tunbridge Wells portrait of him, c.1745, by William Hoare (1707-92).
AR 1870, p.96 (attributed to Reynolds); NGV 1875, p.37; NGV 1894, p.123 (V.Buvelot Gallery, 7th bay, no.6); NGV 1905, p.140 (V.Buvelot Gallery, 6th bay, no.8
For details and reproduction, see see also Hoff (1995), p.28, as “Gentleman in Grey Wig,” citing the 1870 NGV acquisition description, and noting discoloured varnish and some damage
For Hoare’s portrait of “Beau” Nash, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/richard-beau-nash-77340; see also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beau_Nash, citing the biography of Nash by Oliver Goldsmith, and a 2005 monograph by John Eglin