Colonel John Pitt (1698–1744) was a soldier, politician and administrator, who acted as aide-de-camp (ADC) to George I, and from 1728 to 1737 as Governor of Bermuda. He was also a Freemason and in this portrait he is wearing the distinctive red apron and collar of a grand steward. In the eighteenth century grand stewards were appointed to organise a feast for the Grand Lodge of England, one of two governing bodies of Freemasonry at this time, which they were required to pay for themselves. They still operate today, assisting with the meeting and dining arrangements of the United Grand Lodge of England, the governing body of Freemasonry in England and Wales. Suspended from Pitt’s collar is a badge, or jewel, composed of three Masonic symbols: a set square, level and plumb rule. It is believed to have been designed by the artist William Hogarth. Both Pitt and Hogarth were Grand Stewards in 1735 and this portrait is attributed to the latter. The Grand Stewards stopped wearing Hogarth’s jewel in 1835, but it is still included in the design for another jewel that they wear.
Where to see this painting?
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry
60 Great Queen Street, London, Greater London, England, WC2B 5AZ
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.
More on this painting
purchased by the United Grand Lodge of England, 1938