Vice-Admiral William Waldegrave, later 1st Baron Radstock (1753-1825) by William Hilton

Vice-Admiral William Waldegrave, later 1st Baron Radstock (1753-1825)

William Hilton

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Vice-Admiral William Waldegrave, later 1st Baron Radstock (1753-1825) by William Hilton zoom

Vice-Admiral William Waldegrave, later 1st Baron Radstock (1753-1825)

An oval miniature in watercolour and bodycolour on ivory in an oval gilt metal suspension frame. The sitter is shown head and shoulders, with only the left shoulder visible, facing his right but with the head and gaze turned back towards the viewer, against an indeterminate background. His thinning, almost white, hair is worn short over his ears, he has grey/blue eyes and he wears the 1795-1812 flag officer's undress uniform with the two stars of a vice-admiral on the left epaulette. William Waldegrave was second son of John, 3rd Earl Waldegrave. After seven years at Eton, he joined the Navy in 1766, in the 'Jersey', flagship of the Mediterranean fleet. He was commissioned lieutenant in 1775, commander in 1775 and captain in 1776 when he sailed to India in the 'Rippon', 60 guns, flagship of Sir Edward Vernon. After fifteen months there his health forced him home but from 1778 to the end of the War of American Independence in 1783 was a successful frigate captain. Although briefly at sea in 1790, he spent the next ten years ashore travelling for his health and beginning a family, which included two boys who also became naval officers. At the start of the French Revolutionary War he commanded the 'Courageux', 74, under Lord Hood at Toulon and, after some Channel service, the 'Barfleur', 80, under Jervis in the Mediterranean. They did not get on, though he remained long enough to fight at Cape St. Vincent in 1797. He was then a vice-admiral (1795, rear-admiral 1794), and from 1797 to 1800 was commander-in-chief and governor of Newfoundland. He became Baron Radstock in the Irish peerage that December and admiral in 1802, but had no further service. Radstock was a competent rather than especially distinguished officer, and not a notably popular one with his officers. His smooth and relatively fast rise through twenty-eight years of active service, and considerable periods ashore, is primarily a testament to the power of aristocratic connections. William Hilton RA (1786-1839), is best known as a large-scale historical subject painter in oil and miniatures by him are not mentioned in his 'Dictionary of National Biography' entry. However, he was also a sensitive watercolourist including of small-scale portraits. His beautiful sister Harriet and her husband the watercolourist Peter de Wint, with whom he lived in later life, were among his subjects and one of her (though not a miniature), is in the Fitzwilliam Museum for example. This item was presented to the Museum by Mr S. Sefton on 26 February 1943, with that attribution.
William Hilton

  • Image reference: F9549

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