Portrait of Thomas Hollis by Joseph Wilton

This compelling sculpture is the finest likeness of one of the most influential radicals of his time, Thomas Hollis.


Height 66 cm
Art Fund grant:
£57,000 ( Total: £293,157; Tax remission)
Acquired in:
Private collector

It was produced by Hollis's friend, Joseph Wilton, an artist considered amongst the finest of his generation and sculptor to George III. The portrait bust is unadorned and somewhat unusual in that it represents the sitter unwigged with a naked torso. This austere simplicity perfectly complements the exceptional naturalism of Wilton’s carving, whilst the remarkably sensitive and life-like characterisation of Hollis’s expression which, with its half-smile, gives this bust a surprising intimacy and invites the viewer to understand the sitter as a complex and dynamic character. To reinforce Hollis’s political standing and to represent his commitment to the principles of Roman democracy, Wilton presents him in the guise of Brutus with liberty cap and daggers carved on the socle. Hollis admired the figure of Brutus for his opposition to tyranny and it is possible that the design of the bust was the product of close discussion between artist and sitter. This work was acquired with assistance from the Wolfson Foundation.


Thomas Hollis, by descent to; Thomas Brand; Rev. Dr John Disney, 1804; by descent until 1949; Private Collection, 1950; David Hicks, 1954; sold, David and the Lady Pamela Hicks, 1979; Cyril Humphris, 1979; Private Collection, 2003

Venue details

National Portrait Gallery St Martin's Place, LONDON London WC2H 0HE 020 7306 0055 www.npg.org.uk

Entry details

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