Portrait by the Studio of Sir Joshua Reynolds, PRA (British, 1723-1792) Oil on canvas 76.2 x 63.5 cm (30 x 25in)
The present portrait is a head and shoulders version of Reynoldss three-quarter length portrait of 1782 (Earl of Leicester Collection, Holkham Hall). The portrait is the most widely reproduced of Foxs icons, and proved the most popular with his army of devotees, political allies and followers. The original painting at Holkham depicts Fox in a white waistcoat, but derivations from it such as the present example show a buff waistcoat, reflecting the blue and buff colours of George Washingtons army, which from the inception of the American War of Independence became the uniform of the Fox club and during the war with the colonies, the badge of the entire Whig Party.
King George III, famous for his enmity with Fox, remarked of the Holkham portrait, probably after its exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1784, to Henry Angelo, the fencing master: Yes yes, very like, very like. Sir Joshuas picture is very finely painted a fine specimen of art; but Gillray is the better limner. Nobody hits off Mr Fox like him.