Prime Minister ‘Prosperity Robinson’

Richard Bankes Harraden


This is a unique painted profile of the little-known British Prime Minister Frederick John Robinson, 1st Earl of Ripon (1782-1859) and shows him in academic robes with gold braiding on the sleeves. Robinson was educated at Harrow and then St John’s College Cambridge, before proceeding to Lincoln’s Inn in 1802.

Robinson’s first political appointment was as private secretary to his uncle, the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. He was then elected as MP for Carlow and in 1807 as MP for Ripon. He filled various government posts including  President of the Board of Trade and then Chancellor of the Exchequer where he earned himself the nickname ‘Prosperity Robinson’. In August 1827 he was asked to lead a coalition government but his tenure as Prime Minister was short-lived as six months later he was forced to step aside.

This silhouette was painted by Harraden during Robinson’s time at Cambridge University and so dates to about 1800. It is inscribed ‘Hon’ble F. Robinson Earl Ripon’. The background card has some foxing marks. The silhouette is set with old bubbled glass in a flat profile rosewood frame.

Richard Bankes Harraden was born in London in 1778 to Richard Harraden and Ann Waller. He married Sophia Prior in 1813 and with her had seven children. Harraden Senior was also an artist and engraver who published several books with views of Cambridge. Harraden Junior contributed to the later works including one devoted to Cambridge university costume. His known silhouettes are all of Cambridge academics. He was a member of the Society of British Artists where he exhibited landscapes of his native city.

Item Ref. 7181

Size: framed, 173 x 147mm

Provenance: UK Private Collection