The Camden Family Portraits
This exceptional group of 18th century portraits, painted by leading artists in the golden age of English portraiture, is considered to be as fine a collection of English portraits that one could hope to find in any gallery outside London. The 5th Marquess Camden Will Trust chose to place these paintings on long loan to Tunbridge Wells Museum & Art Gallery because of the family’s historically close connections with the area, and because of the impressive way in which the Museum interprets its collections.
Ten portraits of three generations of the Camden family, painted by Gainsborough, Reynolds, Lawrence, Dance, Batoni and Beechey, are on show in one intimate room, emphasising the family relationships between the sitters. This setting gives visitors a unique opportunity to study these works, and compare the styles of the outstanding artists of the period, close-up – an opportunity that cannot be afforded in a historic house, or even in a larger gallery.
The Camden family included exceptional individuals: 1st Earl Camden, Charles Pratt (1714 – 94) was a lawyer, a staunch champion of civil liberties, Cabinet Minister, Lord Chancellor and friend of Prime Minister Pitt the Elder. He also started the development of Camden Town, London. His son, 1st Marquess Camden John Jeffreys Pratt (1759 – 1840) was a prominent politician and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. John's son, George Pratt (1799-1866), 2nd Marquess Camden was served as an MP and was a Lord of the Admiralty. Portraits of Charles Pratt’s children, sister and brother-in-law, and John Jeffreys Pratt’s wife and two daughters are also on show.