King George III: A Study in Personality

A man of deep convictions, George III ruled at a time “when kings were still expected to govern. That he failed to acquire “true notions of common things”, Lewis Namier writes, was “perhaps the deepest cause of his tragedy.”

There were three large pictures of George III at the exhibition of Royal Portraits arranged by the Academy of Arts in the Spring of 1953. Looking-at the first, by Reynolds, painted when the King was 41, I was struck by the immaturity of expression. The second, by Lawrence, painted in 1792 at the age of 54, depicts him in Garter robes; face and posture seem to attempt in a naive, ineffective, and almost engaging manner to live up to a grandeur which the sitter feels incumbent on him. The third, by Stroehling, painted in November 1807, at the age of nearly 70, shows a sad old man, looking dimly at a world in which he has no pleasure, and which he soon will not be able to see or comprehend.

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