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An able politician and administrator, Sandwich was First Lord of the Admiralty on three occasions, most notably from 1771 to 1782.
Sandwich encouraged the scientists’ work on the voyages, ensured that artists were appointed, and oversaw the publication of official accounts of the Voyages. It was the first time that scientific work was included in ‘official’ accounts, and the new knowledge made available to the widest possible public.
Gainsborough painted this around 1780. He was then at the height of his fame. It is characteristic of many of Gainsborough’s later works, swiftly executed, with rich and subtle colours. Later additions have been removed and the painting may now be seen just as it was when the artist finished it. It reveals something of Sandwich’s easy charm and affability, and his willingness to mix and work with capable people from any background.
John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718–1792)
oil on canvas
H 71 x W 61 cm (E)
purchased with the assistance of the Victoria and Albert Museum Purchase Grant Fund and the National Art Collections Fund, 1999