Eton College has a more established tradition of portrait collecting and a greater number of portraits than any other school. Of the 540 oil paintings at Eton, more than three-quarters are portraits. New Faces: Unexhibited Portraits from Eton’s Boarding Houses celebrated some of the less familiar portraits at Eton. They were drawn from displays in areas of the college that receive fewer visitors, such as boarding houses, school departments and other buildings. Few had been exhibited in living memory. This exhibition featured 21 portraits from the Fine & Decorative Art collection, as well as a selection of items from the Eton College Archives. The exhibition was divided into three themes: Leaving Portraits (which show young men shortly after they left the college), portraits of Old Etonians and portraits of Eton staff.
One reason that portraiture became such an important feature at Eton was the college’s links to significant portrait artists. The first President of the Royal Academy, Sir Joshua Reynolds, was the nephew of former King’s Scholar Dr John Reynolds, a fellow of Eton and benefactor of College Library. Portraitist John Hoppner was father to two pupils at the school. William Evans (1798–1877), the best-known former Eton Drawing Master, had many connections within the art world and hosted portraitists, including Margaret Carpenter and George Richmond, at his home in Eton.
Curated by Philippa Martin, Keeper of Fine & Decorative Art and Lynn Sanders, Assistant Keeper, Eton College.