Spotted at auction…

This is quite exciting! Two portraits said to be by John Hayls recently went up for auction together in the US. I have found records and images of only a handful of Hayls paintings, many of them merely attributed to him rather than confirmed works, so these are a lovely addition to the list, especially as they have managed to stay together where other couples have gone their separate ways over the centuries.

hayls couple

They are inscribed with the following:

 “Michael Warton Esq Son in law of John first Lord Poulett Hales Pint”, and “Susanna daughter of John first Lord Poulett and Wife of Michael Warton Esq of Beverly in Yorkshire Hales Pint”.

 

We are told that Susanna (b. pre-1649), was daughter of John 1st Baron Poulett (1585-1549) and Elizabeth (daughter of Christopher Ken of Ken-Court). She married Michael Warton Esquire (1623-1688) circa 1646, Michael being the son of Sir Michael Warton (1593-1645) (who died in the Great Siege of Scarborough Castle) and Catherine Maltby, co-heiress of Christopher Maltby of Maltby-in-Cleveland. The listing also says that the most recent provenance was in the estate of a man in Atlanta, Georgia. I’d be fascinated to know how and when this pair travelled so far, and would hope, as I always do with such sales, that one day a future owner might bring them back home to Britain. I can dream!

Here are the descriptions from the sale listing:

A pair of formal portrait paintings each depicting one of a couple from the noble class of 17th and 18th century Great Britain comprising Susanna standing turned slightly to left wearing a deep blue and pale blue silk gown off the shoulder with a string of large pearls to her throat, drop earrings to each ear, and a jeweled headpiece in her dark curled hair, the figure reaching one hand to grasp a fruit on tray carried by a finely dressed black girl at left adorned in rich red silk dress with golden jewels to her neck and ears; and Michael standing turned slight to right in mirrored stance to his wife and wearing light armor and tied lace collar with his left hand perched on a stone and right arm bent forward with hand clutching a cylindrical wooden handle, the figure set before a dark rocky outcropping covered in moss with colorful landscape in view to right.

 

I wonder how many other husbands and wives from this era remain side by side today? Two portraits of William Dobson and his wife Judith were still hanging together as late as the mid-2oth century until a house sale split them up, with Judith ending up on her own at the Tate Britain (rarely on display, sadly). Happily for the Wartons, though, they were sold as a single lot, and so will hopefully remain together for a good while yet!

 

Ahlers & Ogletree auction

Advertisements

Women of the 17th Century

It’s interesting to watch the change in fashions and attitudes to women, through the paintings that represented them during the 1600s. It’s easy to forget that from the formal, stiff poses, and the ruffs and hoop skirts that carried over from the Tudor years into post-Elizabethan England, through the plain, austere attire of the Commonwealth and its more zealous puritannical adherents,  to the flirty, half-naked, often scandalous women in Lely’s portraits after the Restoration, was only 60 or 70 years. Was it the nature of the times that brought about this alteration in fashion in such a dramatic manner, or would it have happened anyway? The 1600s in England were a turbulent rollercoaster between freedom and oppression (both literally and in a religious sense), the almost total breakdown of society into civil war, then a swing from royalty to republic and back to royalty again. It’s not surprising attitudes to dress and, on a wider scale, the position of women in English life, was likewise unsettled.

Perhaps it is not so uncommon, though. Think of the events of the 20th century, that took Britain from the pre-war years with formal, conservative clothes (hats, gloves, respectability, etc), to austerity and ‘make do and mend’ in the 1940s,  to a post-WWII new world when freedom of expression came into its own, the 1960s being the obvious example.

With that in mind, here’s a look at how our view of women changed during the 1600s.

Elizabeth of Bohemia
Princess Elizabeth Stuart, c.1606, by Robert Peake the Elder, ©Metropolitan Museum of Art
Anne of Denmark2
Anne of Denmark, 1614, by Marcus Gheerhaerts the Younger, ©The Royal Collection
Portrait of Mary Hill, Lady Killigrew 1638 by Sir Anthony Van Dyck 1599-1641
Mary Hill, Lady Killigrew, 1638, Sir Anthony Van Dyck
©Tate Britain
Catherine Pye
Lady Catherine Lucas, Lady Pye, “Dame Catherine Pye”, 1639, Henry Giles
©National Trust, Bradenham Manor
Countess of Loudon
Portrait of a lady, said to be the Countess of Loudon, attrib. John Hayls, date not given
©Collection of The Great Steward of Scotland’s Dumfries House Trust
Poss Lady Salkeld
An unknown woman, possibly Lady Salkeld, date unknown, William Dobson
©C.Cotterell-Dormer. Esq (private collection)
Elizabeth Cromwell
Elizabeth Cromwell (Oliver’s mother), c.1640-1655, Robert Walker
©Museum of London
Nell Gwynn
Nell Gwynn, c.1675, by Sir Peter Lely

Books

In my study of the English Civil War and its art, I’ve picked up a library of invaluable books, many now out of print, that are a goldmine of detail and images not always available in modern publications. I wanted to share some of the best ones, in case they may be of use to others in their own research. I’ve also found they’re very useful in establishing provenance, as they list past owners of paintings that may have since been sold. They’re not so out of print that they’re impossible to find, and you can probably source a cheap copy somewhere like http://www.abebooks.com or Ebay.

  • A History of British Painting – Ernest Short –  What it says on the tin, with a good section on the Stuarts and mid-17th century art.
  • British Portraits – Royal Academy of Arts – Produced for an exhibition at the RA, 1956-7. A good catalogue with many black and white plates, and a small selection from Charles I’s reign.
  • Endymion Porter and William Dobson – William Vaughan, for The Tate Gallery – Published for an exhibition of the same name at the Tate Gallery, 1970. Dobson’s portrait of Porter is one of his most recognised paintings, and can today be viewed (hopefully, unless it’s been stored) at the Tate Britain in London. Includes biographical sections on both Porter and Dobson, many pictures, maps and illustrations, and a section about the conflict itself.
  • The Age of Charles I – Tate Gallery – Published for an exhibition in 1972-3. Many illustrations, including William Dobson, Robert Walker, John Hayls, and other lesser known painters. Unusually, it includes ECW miniatures as well.
  • An Illustrated Souvenir of the Exhibition of 17th Century Art in Europe, 1938 – Royal Academy of Arts. Again, what it says! Mostly black and white plates, with a few from the ECW period.
  • The Life and Times of Charles I – D.R.Watson – not strictly an art book, but full of paintings, maps, illustrations and a guide to the ECW.
  •  Last but not least, an essential book on the subject  (and my ‘bible’) – William Dobson, 1611-1646 – National Portrait Gallery, 1983. As well as both colour and black and white images of Dobson’s works from the exhibition, including detailed provenance and biographies of the sitters,  there’s an excellent biographical section that forms the most extensive research on Dobson published to date.*

Let me know if you have any other recommendations!

 

*A new biography of William Dobson is due for publication in 2016. More details soon.

 

Research

I’ve been studying ECW painting for about 15 years (it’s all Colonel Gerard’s fault, but that’s another story…) and along the way I’ve collected copies of as many soldier portraits  as I can find from the period. What I now have is a fascinating scrapbook of paintings, many of which have an unidentified or uncertain sitter or artist. I’ll post them up here and hopefully readers will be able to offer suggestions as to who they might be, or by.  Likewise, if you’ve found a picture you can’t identify, let me know and I’ll put it up on the site. You can get in touch via the comments beneath each post.

First on the list is this gentleman:

(c) National Trust, Wimpole Hall; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
©National Trust, Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire

The title of the painting is given as “Portrait of a Man (wrongly said to be Sir Thomas Chicheley, 1618-1699)”, and attributed to John Hayls. The date is unknown.

The National Trust entry says the following:

The sitter in this portrait has always been traditionally identified as Sir Thomas Chicheley, who was a member of one of the wealthiest families in Cambridgeshire. He was a zealous Royalist, who was heavily penalised during the Commonwealth. His ruinous extravagance forced him to sell Wimpole, where this picture now hangs. However, in the absence of any provenance or other evidence to support the identification of this painting as of Sir Thomas Chicheley, it must be regarded as a portrait of somebody else. The baton held by the sitter suggests that he held an actual military command. The painting used to be attributed to Sir Anthony Van Dyck. The pose was certainly used by him, but the picture looks later.

Compare with this one by William Dobson, also said to be of Sir Thomas Chicheley. (Apologies for the poor quality but I only have a black and white image available. I’m also unable to add a source, as I believe it was auctioned in 1992 and its whereabouts are unknown).

Thomas Chicheley
“Sir Thomas Chicheley”, possibly c.1642-1645

I can’t see any resemblance, and as the Dobson is more certainly attributed as Chicheley, I think the NT is right to doubt the identity of the other one. Any thoughts?

Walker et al

Dobson’s opposite number in the Parliamentarian army, Robert Walker, is as much a mystery as Dobson is.  We know nothing of his background, or how he came to be working in the Parliament camp, but it is said he was older than Dobson by  about a decade (he was allegedly born in 1599), and was a member of the Painter-Stainer’s Company. Here he is, in a self-portrait c.1645-1650…

Robert Walker
“Robert Walker”, c.1645-1650, ©National Portrait Gallery, London

While Dobson’s movements are easy to pin down, as he almost certainly didn’t move from Oxford until the Royalists surrendered and left it in 1646, it’s unclear whether Walker was similarly based in one location, or if he was on the move.  He was prolific, however,  with many of the Parliamentarian high command sitting for him, both during the war and afterwards under the Commonwealth. Walker’s most recognised painting is probably this one of Oliver Cromwell.

NPG 536; Oliver Cromwell by Robert Walker
“Oliver Cromwell”, c.1649, ©National Portrait Gallery, London

Although portraits  from this period tend to be, at first glance at least, simplistically attributed to either Dobson or Walker depending on whether the sitter looks like a Roundhead or a Cavalier, of course they weren’t the only painters trying to make a living during the conflict. Other names I’ve come across while researching Civil War portraits include Gerard Soest (attrib.):

Unknown possibly by Soest
“Portrait of a Royalist Officer”, c.1646-1649, ©The Samuel Cortauld Trust,
The Courtauld Gallery, London

John Weesop:

Marmaduke-Darcy Weesop
“Marmaduke d’Arcy”, c.1645-1648, ©The Huntington Library,
Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

…and John Hayls:

Thomas Pigott
“Colonel Thomas Pigott”, c.1647, ©North Somerset Museum/North Somerset Council

I know nothing about the above painters, but would be very interested to learn more about them, and any others who where about during the wars and painting soldiers, from either side. Let me know!

%d bloggers like this: