Douce’s ‘Portraits of English literati’

Douce’s collection also includes a large number of portraits, most of which seem to have been either given to him by friends and acquaintances, or cut from newspapers and magazines. As Douce knew many of the sitters personally, sometimes he couldn’t help adding comments to the images. This is the case of an etching published by William Staden Blake and reprinted in William Granger’s The New Wonderful Museum, and extraordinary magazine, filed by Douce under ‘English literati’:

Portrait of Josh Capper Esqr of the Horns Kennington, 1804 (Ashmolean Museum, Oxford)

Nothing in the entertaining account of Joseph Capper’s life provided by Granger explains what his claims to the title of man of letters were, and the DNB gives ‘eccentric’ as his main occupation. Douce was not amused, and he wrote on the verso:

This square faced old fellow dined for a considerable time at the tavern next door to the Grays Inn coffee house where he had a table spread for him in the middle of the room. He sat alone & spoke to nobody. I used to be much disgusted with his silly consequence.

Another portrait including additional details of Capper’s dwellings and attire (a cat and a pair of striped stockings) can be found in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery:

Joseph Capper at the NPG

Joseph Capper in the DNB

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