George Perfect Harding 1781-1853

George Perfect Harding was an English portrait painter and copyist. He was a son of Silvester Harding of Pall Mall, London. Adopting his father's profession, he practised miniature-painting, and exhibited at the Royal Academy at intervals between 1802 and 1840; but, like his father, he mainly devoted himself to making water-colour copies of historical portraits. 

 

Harding visited family seats of the nobility, royal palaces and college halls. He produced highly finished copy portraits. In 1839 he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, but withdrew in 1847.

 

In 1822-1823 Harding published a series of eighteen portraits of the Deans of Westminster, engraved by James Stow, R. Grave and others, to illustrate John Preston Neale and Edward Wedlake Brayley's 'History of Westminster Abbey'. This was followed by 'Ancient Oil Paintings and Sepulchral Brasses in the Abbey Church of St. Peter, Westminster', with descriptions by Thomas Moule. Among other historical works to which he supplied the plates was John Heneage Jesse's Memoirs of the Court of England during the Reign of the Stuarts, 1840'. He gave much time to the preparation of a manuscript account of the Princes of Wales, illustrated with portraits and heraldic devices. 

 

In 1840, Harding took a leading part in establishing the Granger Society, the object of which was the publication of previously unengraved historical portraits. However, through lack of support, the society came to an end in early 1843 after only publishing a few prints. Harding carried on the work on his own account, and during the next five years issued a series of fifteen plates, engraved by Joseph Brown and William Greatbach, with biographical notices by Moule. The copperplates of these afterwards passed into the hands of John Russell Smith of Soho Square, who reissued the work in 1869.

 

Harding died at Hercules Buildings, Lambeth, where he had resided for more than thirty years. He left a large family by a second wife. His portrait was engraved by J Brown, from a miniature by himself in 1826. A collection of Harding's works went to the print room of the British Museum.