General MacGregor of Poyais
By REYNOLDS, S[amuel] W[illiam] [after] S[imon] J[acques] ROCHARD , 1825

El General Mac Gregor.

Social & Political
  • Author: REYNOLDS, S[amuel] W[illiam] [after] S[imon] J[acques] ROCHARD
  • Publication place: [London
  • Publication date: c1825].
  • Physical description: Mezzotint, tear to lower portion.
  • Dimensions: 360 by 260mm (14.25 by 10.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 2686


Fine mezzotint portrait of General Gregor MacGregor after Simon Jacques Rochard.

In 1820 soldier and adventure by the name of Sir Gregor MacGregor, had announced that he had been created cacique (highest authority or prince) of the Principality of Poyais, an independent nation on the Bay of Honduras. He claimed that native chieftain King George Frederic Augustus I of the Mosquito Shore and Nation had given him the territory of Poyais, 12,500 mile² of fertile land with untapped resources, a small number of settlers of British origin, and co-operative natives. He had created the beginnings of a country with civil service, army and democratic government. Now he needed settlers and investment and had come back to the United Kingdom to give people the opportunity. The scheme turned out to be a complete fabrication on the part of MacGregor, and when the first colonists arrived in 1823 they found nothing but dense jungle and four ramshackle huts.

Macgregor was painted by Parisian-born Simon Jacques Rochard (1788-1872), who studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts where he was taught miniature painting by J.B.J. Augustin. He moved then to Brussels where he was commissioned to produce a miniature of the Duke of Wellington for the King of Spain shortly before the battle of Waterloo, he painted also other officers and society members. Rochard soon afterwards moved to London, where he established a highly lucrative miniature portrait practice among the aristocracy. He exhibited at the Royal Academy, the British Institution, the Society of British Artists, and at the New Watercolour Society from 1816 to 1845. In 1846, Rochard settled in Brussels, where he continued to work for the rest of his life.