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A three-quarter-length portrait slightly to the left in a mauve gown and russet drapery. He wears a brown full-bottomed wig and his right hand rests on a wooden rule while he holds a pair of dividers over a draft plan for a ship. He gestures with his left hand towards the launch of the first-rate, 'Royal Sovereign', on the left and both the Thames and the buildings of Woolwich are visible behind him. Harding was Master Shipwright at Deptford between 1686 and 1705, and built the ship he gestures towards at Woolwich in 1701. He also built the 'Boyne'. Pepys described him as 'a very slow man, of no learning, authority and countenance', which probably means that Pepys found him difficult to handle. Richardson was the principal portrait painter of the period between Kneller and Hudson.
Fisher Harding (active 1698–1701), Master Shipwright, with the Launch of the 'Royal Sovereign', 1701
oil on canvas
H 127 x W 103 cm