Sitter in 1 portrait
Artist associated with 1 portrait
Donor of 2 portraits
Artist: by Richard Phelps
Medium: oil on canvas
Measurements: height 1270 mm. (50 in.) width 1016 mm. (40 in.)
at the back in large bold letters 'R. PHELPS PINXIT 1764' (Lane Poole, 1, p.142); in a cartouche at the top of the frame: 'P. Palmer LL.D./ Coll. Omn. Anim. Socius/ et Academiae in Parliamento Burgensis/ D.D.D./ Cust. et Coll. Omn. Anim.'
Acquisition: gift from Warden and Fellows of All Souls College, 1770
Location: Examination Schools
Three-quarter length, seated to right in an ornately carved blue velvet armchair, facing viewer; bushy grey wig; square bands, white lace ruffles; scarlet robe with rose sleeves and facings of Doctor of Civil Law (D.C.L.) over rust brown coat and breeches; his right hand on elbow of chair; his left arm rests on edge of table on which lies an open volume; behind are bookshelves to right, to left green curtain.
Given to the University by All Souls College in 1769: 'Effigiem Peregrini: Palmer : Arm ad suprema Regni Cometia Senator ab Univ: Oxon: olim delegat: D.D. in Xisto Bodl: no reponendam, Custos et Socii. Coll: Omn: Anim' (Registrum Benefactorum, for the year 1769, Library Records, b.903, Bodleian Library, II, p.203)
Painted posthumously, the portrait commemorates Palmer's service as Burgess (or Member of Parliament) for the University between 1745 and his death in 1762, and also his bequest of £500 to All Souls College, of which he was a Fellow. The following letter, slipped into the National Portrait Gallery's Board Room copy of Mrs Lane Poole's catalogue, annotated by the Director, C.J. Holmes, suggests that the portrait, documented by the artist in his inscription on the back as a posthumous copy, was probably commissioned by the College:
'You ask about the portrait of Peregrine Palmer. The only new information that I can give you regarding it is that which I have found in the following two entries in the College minute book:-
8 Nov. 1765. Agreed that a hansome [sic] frame be provided for Mr Palmer’s Picture, & the Picture be hung up in the Warden’s Lodgings
3 Feb. 1770 Agreed by the Warden & Fellows that the picture of Mr Palmer should be offered to the University to be placed in the Picture Gallery.
No reason is given for the College’s alienation. I take it however that the new Warden (Viscount Tracey) did not wish to have it in his Lodgings which where then the only place for hanging College portraits, the College’s Dining Hall not having as yet been brought into use for that purpose.' (Edmund Craster, Librarian of All Souls, ms letter to an unknown recipient, possibly Holmes's successor, H.M. Hake, 1 folio, 19 June 1950, National Portrait Gallery Archive, London)
The portrait was transferred to the Examination Schools in 1910 by Act of Convocation: ‘That the Curators of the Bodleian Library be authorized to transfer, and the Curators of the Schools to receive, the portraits of Sir William Dolben, Lord Grenville, Speaker Bromley, and Peregrine Palmer now hanging in the Picture Gallery and elsewhere in the Bodleian Library’ (Oxford University Gazette, 8 June 1910, pp.764-765)
In his electoral survey of c.1749-50, Lord Egmont noted of Palmer that he was 'An honest plain man, much affected with the gout, and wont attend often, a Tory but I believe will be with us.' (The History of Parliament, The House of Commons, 1715-1754, ed. R. Sedgwick, 2 vols, 1970, 2, p.322)
A. Wood, History and Antiquities of the University of Oxford ed. by J. Gutch, 2 vols (1792-1796), II, p.977; R. Lane Poole, Catalogue of Portraits in the possession of the University, Colleges, City, and County of Oxford, 3 vols (1912, 1925), I, p.142, no.346
Annette Peach, ‘OP13 Peregrine Palmer (1703/04-1762)’, Portraits in Oxford, online edn, 2006,
[http://www.odl.ox.ac.uk/oxfordportraits/portrait.php?w=13, accessed 25th May 2013]