1633 - 1696
Portrait of a Lady by a Fountain
Oil on canvas
Image size: 49 x 40 ¼ inches
of Charles II.
Whilst England was under the puritanical rule of Oliver Cromwell, Charles had spent many years living in exile in France. The young king picked up a taste for foreign fashion and on his return set up a court that was more lavish and licentious than any that had gone before. It was a place where theatrical performance was commonplace and where powerful women would take a new prominence, many winning great influence and celebrity.
The famous diarist, Samuel Pepys visited Huysmans’ studio in 1664. Pepys was clearly impressed, commenting that during his visit, he had seen ‘as good pictures, I think, as ever I saw’, and noting that the artist was capable of a more exact likeness than his famous contemporary Sir Peter Lely, (see Coward, B. A Companion to Stuart Britain, Oxford, (2003), p.203). Certainly the diarist records that by 1664, Huysmans was reckoned to be the better painter of the two amongst the circle of the Queen, Catherine of Braganza.
This impressive portrait depicts a fashionable lady seated by a fountain in the middle of a rose garden. The sitter’s identity is unknown but she was doubtless of extremely high social standing and is shown here wearing a style of dress that was typically worn by the ladies at court in the 1660’s and 1670’s.
Dethloff, D. ‘Portraiture and Concepts of Beauty in Restoration Painting’ in Macleod, C. and Marciari Alexander J. (ed.), Painted Ladies: Women at the Court of Charles II, London, (2001), p.32).
The artist was an expert at depicting the textures and folds of the rich fabrics worn by the nobility and he has captured in great detail the way that the light catches the tawny silks and the loose ringlets falling through the lady’s fingers.
Huysmans’ work continued to be popular at court and he painted many important members of the aristocracy, including the Duke of Lauderdale and the Duke of Albemarle. The artist’s career in London was briefly interrupted in 1666, when he temporarily relocated to Sussex, perhaps fearing that his Catholic faith might attract suspicion in the paranoid and xenophobic atmosphere following the Great Fire of London. He died thirty years later in London in 1696 and was interred at St. James’s Piccadilly.
- Macleod, C. and Marciari Alexander J. (ed.), Painted Ladies: Women at the Court of Charles II, London,
- Coward, B. A Companion to Stuart Britain, Oxford, (2003).
Flemish School, Early 17th Century
Portrait of a Boy in a Black Tunic
Oil on panel
Image size: 15¾ x 13⅛ inches
This accomplished portrait of an unknown boy in his early teens was painted between 1620 and 1640.
The artist has depicted his sitter with great sensitivity, delicately observing the transition of flesh tonesn his flushed pink cheeks and picking out the wisps of hair around his ears with fine brush strokes. The dramatic play of light and shadow serves to emphasize both the sitter’s face and the gold buttons decorating his doublet, as they shine out against the dark background.
The richness of the boy’s clothing indicates that he was from an affluent family and, despite his tender age, he engages the viewer
with the intense and direct gaze of a confident young man.
Circle of Pieter Harmensz Verelst
Late 17th Century
Portrait of a Young Man
Oil on Panel
Image size: 7½ x 5¾ inches
Ripple moulded frame
The Dutch Golden Age painter Pieter Harmensz Verlest was born in the Netherlands in 1618. He painted a variety of subject matters, including a number of portraits, but is perhaps best known for his depictions of daily life including street and tavern scenes from Dutch and Italian villages. He died around 1668, leaving three sons, Simon, Herman and Johannes, who all followed in their father’s footsteps and became artists.
This small and intimate portrait dates from the late 17th century and was painted by a member of the
circle of Verelst. It depicts a youth standing in front of a doorway looking out onto a flat landscape. A large proportion of the landscape is made up of a dramatic cloud-streaked sky and the sitter’s large averted eyes display a woeful, melancholic expression, which is echoed in the dark clouds brewing in the distance behind him.
The painting’s composition is made up of several alternating contrasts between light shining across the
sitter’s right arm and face, and the flash of bright blue sky towards the top of the picture, against the blacks and murky browns of the distant fields and the deep shadows behind him. The contrast between light and dark is used particularly effectively in the artist’s skilful handling of the youth’s baggy shirtsleeves, which are criss-crossed with tiny crumples and folds.
Late 16th Century
Portrait of a Merchant
Oil on panel
Image size: 2½ x 2½ inches
Hand-carved gilt frame
This rare and intimate Elizabethan portrait, dating from the 1580’s, depicts the head and shoulders of a wealthy merchant within a mottled-green painted circle.
- Cooper, T. A Guide to Tudor and Jacobean Portraits, London, (2008).
- Cooper, T. Citizen Portrait: Portrait Painting and the Urban Elite of Tudor and Jacobean England and Wales,
- Reynolds, A. In Fine Style: The Art of Tudor and Stuart Fashion, London, (2013).
Portrait of a Girl
Oil on panel, signed and dated
Image size: 24½ x 20 inches
18th Century gilt frame
Gilbert Jackson was an accomplished English portrait painter, active between 1621 and 1643.
Little is known about Jackson’s life; he was probably a London based artist but he seems to have travelled around various parts of England, painting members of the local gentry and their families. He was made a freeman of the Painter-Stainer’s Company in 1640.
This charming portrait displays many of the features attributed to Jackson. In contrast to his foreign
contemporaries Daniel Mytens, Sir Anthony Van Dyck and Paul van Somer, who were working at the court around this time, Jackson followed a more traditional English style, reminiscent of works from the Elizabethan era. The way that the sitter’s face quietly recedes into the background of this portrait is reminiscent of the naïve charm of earlier portraits, yet the face is saved from flatness or stiffness by the
delicate, knowing expression which Jackson has brought to the eyes, and by the well observed line of
the mouth, which brings life to the girl’s confident smile.
Other features of Jackson’s work are the detailed way in which he depicts costume and, in particular,
his bold use of colour. Here the artist has chosen a teal background, which is strikingly bright next to the sumptuous scarlet of the sitter’s gown and the ribbon in her hair. Jackson’s skill is evident in his handling of the light as it catches the lace on the dress and passes through the fine material of the intricate collar, and in the way that he brings across the light, wispy texture of the girl’s hair in contrast to the hard, smooth surface of the pearls at her ears and around her neck.
An inscription at the top of the painting gives us part of the artist’s signature, as well as the initials and age of the sitter. The sitter is most likely the daughter of a noble family, painted during one of the artist’s trips outside London.
Jackson’s works are present in a number of important national collections including the National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the National Museum of Cardiff.
We are grateful to Sir Roy Strong for his assistance attributing this work.
Early 19th Century
Graphite and pastel on paper
Image size: 14 x 11½ inches
In this self portrait, dating from the early 19th century, the artist has chosen to depict himself resting his tousled head heavily on his left hand in a state of melancholic dishevelment, with an unbuttoned collar and distracted eyes. Melancholia has long been associated with creative genius and was therefore seen as a fashionable affliction amongst aspiring and creative young men, particularly poets and artists.
Portrait of a Crossbowman
Oil on oak panel
Image size: 27 x 35 inches
Contemporary style frame
This early work, depicting a gentleman holding a crossbow winder, was produced in the Low Countries
in the first quarter of the 17th century. The man is dressed in black, the colour of choice in the Low
Countries during this period. To the modern eye, his clothing appears to be relatively sombre, but on
closer inspection, it is apparent that the artist has conveyed the elevated status of his sitter through
bringing out the differing textures of the material that make up his costume.
The Gentleman’s golden jewel-covered belt is particularly well painted and indicates that the sitter was
the holder of some form of civic position, perhaps linked to the crossbow, which is referred to both in
the coat of arms in the top right hand side of the portrait, and the crossbow winder in his hand. The
crossbow was a popular weapon of choice on the continent and it is possible that the sitter served as a
prominent member of one of the many crossbow guilds in towns across the Low Countries, as an officer
in a civic militia.
Continental School, Early 17th Century
Portrait of a Gentleman with a Crossbow Winder
Oil on panel
Inscribed ‘AETATIS SUAE 32’
Image size: 35¼ x 26¾ inches
Circle of Hyacinthe Rigaud
Early 18th Century
Portrait of a Gentleman in a Fur Hat
Oil on canvas
Image size: 20½ x 16¼ inches
Period gilt frame
Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659–1743) was the leading French portraitist of the late 17th and early 18th Centuries. The son of a tailor and painter in Perpignan, Rigaud trained in Montpellier under PaulPetzet and Antoine Ranc.
He moved to Paris in 1681, where he trained under Charles Le Brun, and in 1682 was awarded the Prix de Rome by the French Academy in Rome. Rigaud was inspired by the works of other great masters whose paintings he studied and collected.
His style encompasses thedignity and pose of the works of van Dyck, as well as the realism of Rembrandt, to create themajestically superior and naturalistic images which so appealed to his decidedly high-brow clientele.The artist’s work proved to be extremely popular amongst the aristocracy, and his talent was soonnoticed by Louis XIV.
He became the principal painter to the king under Louis XIV and paintedmany portraits for the royal family under the Sun King and his successor Louis XV, including his mostfamous work, the iconic image of Louis XIV in his state robes (1701).
This handsome portrait, painted by a member of Rigaud’s circle, dates from c.1725-50 and depicts arefined gentleman, dressed in an informal costume referred to as ‘undress’. A gentleman would wearsuch an outfit whilst at home or when paying a visit to the coffee house in the morning.
The sitter’s garments are of a very high quality and serve to reflect the sitter’s wealth, status and elegance. During this period, gentlemen often shaved their heads in order to facilitate the wearing of a wig, which wouldbe worn with a suit. Here the sitter has been depicted in a luxurious turban-like cap lined with lynx fur,a highly fashionable and expensive material at the time.
Over his shirt, he wears a velvet fur-linedgown adorned with decorative clasps fashioned from silver braid. The elegant informality of hisappearance can be seen in his unbuttoned shirt and the unfastened black ribbon hanging from hisbuttonhole, which has been artfully arranged into a fluttering drape by the portraitist.
Literature:- Ribeiro, A. Dress in Eighteenth Century Europe, London, (2002).
D M Saxton
British 20th Century
Portrait of a Sailor
Oil on canvas, signed lower right
Image size: 17 x 13 inches
The back of this painting notes that the it won the Royal Navy Painting Award. Unfortunately there is no record of the year.
Portrait of Isaac Barrow
Oil on canvas
Image size: 29 ½ x 25 inches (75 x 63.5 cm)
Mary Beale, (nee Craddock), is one of the most celebrated portraitists of the 17th century. The fact that she, as a woman, managed to reach the top of this male-dominated profession is highly unusual, (if not exceptional), and testimony to her skill and strength of character. The artist came from a puritan background and her father, John Craddock, was the reverend of Barrow in the county of Suffolk, where she was baptised in 1633. John Craddock was an amateur painter and he is recorded as being a member of the Painter-Stainers’ Company.
Little is known of Mary Beale’s training but it is possible that she received instruction from Robert Walker, a successful London portraitist who painted her father John Craddock in the 1640’s. She moved to Walton-on-Thames in 1651, after her marriage to Charles Beale, and then to Covent Garden several years after the birth of her elder son Bartholomew. Beale started to paint professionally in 1655, becoming the main source of income for the family after her husband lost his post as Deputy of Clerks at the Patent Office.
Charles devoted himself to supporting his wife in her profession, acting as her studio assistant and business manager and recording details of her career and working practices in over thirty diaries, of which one survives in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery. Her fame grew rapidly in London society and her work was much admired by her contemporaries, including fellow artists such as the renowned court portraitist Sir Peter Lely and miniaturist Richard Gibson.
Lely was an ardent admirer of Beale’s work and the two evidently enjoyed a very close relationship with one another. Lely allowed her the great privilege of observing him and studying his technique whilst he painted, even granting her permission to produce copies of his own works.As well as producing copies, Beale also worked hard to satisfy the high demand for her own work. She produced a large number of portraits, including many for the clergy and the nobility, as her husband proudly records in his diaries where he lists a great number of her sitters.
Many of Beale’s works have survived, including a large collection of paintings in the collection of the Manor House Museum in Bury St Edmunds, her portrait of her two sons in the Tate Britain collection, and a fine self portrait of the artist, which hangs in The National Gallery.
This fine portrait depicts Isaac Barrow (1630 - 1677), a Christian theologian and mathematician who is generally given credit for his early role in the development of infinitesimal calculus. Isaac went to school first at Charterhouse, where he was so turbulent and pugnacious that his father was heard to pray that if it pleased God to take any of his children he could best spare Isaac. He completed his education at Trinity College, he then resided for a few years in college, but in 1655 he was driven out by the persecution of the Independents. He spent the next four years in the East of Europe, and after many adventures returned to England in 1659.
Barrow was ordained the next year, and appointed to the professorship of Greek at Cambridge. In 1662 he was made professor of geometry at Gresham College, and in 1663 was selected as the first occupier of the Lucasian chair at Cambridge. He resigned the latter to his pupil Newton in 1669, whose superior abilities he recognized and frankly acknowledged. He was appointed master of Trinity College in 1672, and held the post until his death. Another portrait by Mary Beale of the same sitter can be seen at Trinity College, Cambridge.
Literature:- Barber, T. and Bustin M., ‘Mary Beale: Portrait of a Seventeenth Century Painter, Her Family andHer Studio’, exhibition catalogue, Geffrye Museum, (1999).
Circle of Daniel Dumonstier
1574 - 1646
Portrait of Anne of Austria
Oil on canvas
Image size: 32 x 26 inches
1713 - 1784
Portrait of a Lady in a Green Dress
Oil on Canvas, signed and dated 1747
Image size: 29¼ x 24¼ inches
Period gilt frame
Painter to King George III and widely recognised as one of the most talented portraitists of his generation, Allan Ramsay was born in Edinburgh in 1713. His father, also named Allan Ramsay, was a poet and playwright, best known as the author of The Gentle Shepherd (1725). Like many of the most prestigious portraitists of his age, the young Ramsay studied at the St. Martin’s Lane Academy in London, as well as training in the studio of Swedish painter Hans Hysing.
In 1736, Ramsay travelled to Italy for the first time, working at the French Academy in Rome under the instruction of Francesco Imperiali before moving to Naples, where he worked in the studio of Francesco Solimena.
Invigorated by his experience under the Italian-baroque masters on the continent, Ramsay returned to Britain in 1738 and set up his own portrait practice in Covent Garden. His work swiftly gained in popularity and he soon attained an impressive list of clients, including the Duke of Bridgewater, Sir Robert Walpole, the Lord Chancellor Philip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke and Dr. Richard Mead. As well as expanding his list of clients in London, Ramsay also retained his contacts in his native Edinburgh, where he continued to maintain a studio. His work proved particularly popular amongst the Scottish nobility and he received a number of important commissions from figures such as the Duke of Argyll and the Duke of Buccleuch.
This beautiful portrait of a lady in a green dress was painted in 1747, the year which Smart cites as marking a watershed in Ramsay’s artistic development (see Smart, ‘The Art of Allan Ramsay’ in Smart, A. and Marshall, R. (ed.), Allan Ramsay 1713-1785, Edinburgh, (1992 p.20). Created in the same year that Ramsay presented his magnificent full-length portrait of Dr. Richard Mead to the Foundling Hospital in London, this work was most likely painted in London or in Edinburgh, where the artist was situated between the summer of 1747 and January 1748.
The portrait has a luminous quality and displays the natural sensitivity which Ramsay brings to much of his work, particularly in his portrayal of female sitters, a quality noted by Horace Walpole who praised Ramsay for his delicacy and expressed the opinion that he was superior to Reynolds as a painter of women (for quotation, see Smart, A. ‘The Art of Allan Ramsay’ in Smart, A. and Marshall, R. (ed.), Allan Ramsay 1713-1785, Edinburgh, (1992) p.11).
Ramsay visited Italy for a second time from 1754 to 1757, and it was on his return to London in 1757 that he received his first commission from Lord Bute, tutor to the Prince of Wales, to paint the heir to the throne. In 1761, Ramsay was chosen to paint the Prince, now George III, and his wife Queen Charlotte in full state coronation robes. The works were a great success and Ramsay was appointed Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King in March 1767 and subsequently spent much of his time producing copies of his coronation portraits and other works for the royal family. Ramsay’s career in painting was halted by an injury to his arm, which he sustained from a fall from a ladder in 1773. A close friend of Dr. Johnson and David Hume, and correspondent of the likes of Voltaire and Rousseau, Ramsay spent his latter years following his intellectual and literary pursuits until his death in 1784.
- Campbell, M. Allan Ramsay: Portraits of the Enlightenment, London, (2013).
- Smart, A. Allan Ramsay: A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, London, (1999).
- Smart, A. Allan Ramsay: Painter, Essayist and man of the Enlightenment, London, (1992).
- Smart, A. and Marshall, R. (ed.), Allan Ramsay 1713-1785, Edinburgh, (1992).