Chaloner Ogle, born in 1726, was the third son of Nathaniel Ogle of Kirkley Hall, Northumberland, sometime physician to the forces under the Duke of Marlborough (information from a brochure of 1928 by W. Roberts that came to the Museum with the picture). As a young man, Chaloner Ogle served with his uncle in the West Indies. Commissioned a lieutenant in 1745 and a commander in 1756, he was appointed captain of the Aquilon and in 1761 captured several French privateers. He was knighted in 1768. During the war with Spain, sailing under the command of Admiral Sir George Rodney, he participated in the relief of Gibraltar in January 1780 and the capture of many ships of the Spanish fleet. Ogle was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral of the Blue later that year, and in 1805 reached the rank of Admiral of the Red. He was created a baronet shortly before his death in 1816 at eighty-nine. Ogle married Hester Thomas, daughter and co-heir of the bishop of Winchester, in 1761, and the couple had many children.
Chaloner Ogle first sat for Romney in the spring of 1781, shortly after he completed active service. Ward and Roberts (1904) list sittings for Sir C. or Ch. Ogle, and once for Sir Chevelr Ogle—on May 12, 14, 16, and 18, 1781, and on June 13 and 19, 1782—but did not know the whereabouts of the picture, which reportedly descended in the family until 1928.
Romney is generally considered to have been less successful with portraits of men than with those of women and children. There are only a handful of military portraits, and this one is a compelling image of a rugged individual. A replica or copy was sold at Newcastle-upon-Tyne by Anderson & Garland on November 30, 1982, no. 424.
[2010; adapted from Baetjer 2009]