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William Pitt the Younger was Britain's youngest ever Prime Minister, entering office in 1783 at the age of just 24. His father, William Pitt the Elder had also served as Whig Prime Minister from 1766–1768. To distinguish himself from his father, Pitt became known as ‘the Younger’. As prime minister, Pitt oversaw the Act of Union in 1801 – uniting Ireland and Great Britain – perhaps his most long-lasting legacy. In this portrait Pitt appears in a relaxed, almost nonchalant mood, receiving a letter whilst gently leaning on the back of his chair. The portrait was painted for Pitt’s private secretary Joseph Smith to hang in his family home. Gainsborough portrays Pitt as a gracious, cordial employer. His hand directs the viewers’ gaze towards the letter he holds, addressed ‘To the Rt.

English Heritage, Kenwood



The Right Honourable William Pitt the Younger (1759–1806)




oil on canvas


H 127 x W 101.6 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Iveagh Bequest, 1929

Work type



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