Wednesday, April 5, 2017

10 Paintings, PORTRAIT OF A LADY, with Footnotes. # 18

John Singer Sargent, (1856–1925)
Portrait of Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1865-1932), c. 1892
Oil on canvas
127 × 101 cm (50 × 39.8 in)
Scottish National Gallery

Lady Gertrude Agnew was born in 1865, the daughter of the Hon. Gowran Vernon and granddaughter of Robert Vernon, 1st Baron Lyveden. She married Sir Andrew Agnew, 9th Baronet of Lochnaw Castle in 1889. In 1892  he commissioned John Singer Sargent to paint her portrait. The success of the painting endowed Gertrude with additional notability and prestige. There is speculation that the family may have met with financial difficulties resulting in an attempt to sell the painting to the Trustees of the Frick Collection in 1922 but the offer was rejected. Gertrude died in London in April 1932 after suffering ill health for a long time. More Lady Gertrude Agnew

John Singer Sargent (January 12, 1856 – April 14, 1925) was an American artist, considered the "leading portrait painter of his generation" for his evocations of Edwardian era luxury. During his career, he created roughly 900 oil paintings and more than 2,000 watercolors, as well as countless sketches and charcoal drawings. His oeuvre documents worldwide travel, from Venice to the Tyrol, Corfu, the Middle East, Montana, Maine, and Florida.

His parents were American, but he was trained in Paris prior to moving to London. Sargent enjoyed international acclaim as a portrait painter, although not without controversy and some critical reservation; an early submission to the Paris Salon, his "Portrait of Madame X", was intended to consolidate his position as a society painter, but it resulted in scandal instead. From the beginning his work was characterized by remarkable technical facility, particularly in his ability to draw with a brush, which in later years inspired admiration as well as criticism for a supposed superficiality. His commissioned works were consistent with the grand manner of portraiture, while his informal studies and landscape paintings displayed a familiarity with Impressionism. In later life Sargent expressed ambivalence about the restrictions of formal portrait work, and devoted much of his energy to mural painting and working en plein air. He lived most of his life in Europe. More John Singer Sargent

Sir Francis Grant, PRA (1803 –1878
 Anne Emily Sophia Grant (known as 'Daisy' Grant), Mrs William Markham (1836 - 1880), c. 1857
 Oil on canvas
223.50 x 132.30 cm (framed: 260.20 x 169.20 x 13.00 cm)
National Galleries of Scotland

Sir Francis Grant’s affectionate depiction of his daughter ‘Daisy’ was painted in February 1857, and first shown in Scotland at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1859. This portrait shows the artist at the height of his powers. It was painted just before Daisy’s marriage to Colonel William Markham. In depicting his daughter, Grant was unconstrained by the demands of a commission. For a mid-century portrait by a painter at the heart of the artistic and social establishment, it is startlingly direct. More about this painting

Sir Francis Grant PRA (18 January 1803 – 5 October 1878). Scottish painter, active mainly in England. Grant was one of the most successful fashionable portraitists of his day and he also (particularly early in his career) produced sporting pictures (he came from an aristocratic family and was devoted to fox-hunting). He was perhaps at his best in portraits of young women, in which he continued the glamorous tradition of Lawrence but tempered the elegant dash with a touch of Victorian sobriety: an enchanting example is his portrait of his daughter ‘Daisy’ Grant (1857, NG, Edinburgh). More Sir Francis Grant

Sir Francis Grant, PRA (1803 –1878
HM Queen Victoria (1819–1901), c. 1845/46
 Oil on canvas
274.3 x 218.4 cm
Christ's Hospital, Horsham, West Sussex, England

The painting records a review which took place on the morning of 11 June 1845 when the Queen inspected the troops stationed at Windsor, the Regiment of Royal Horse Guards and the 2nd Battalion of Coldstream Guards. In the background we can see the Duke of Wellington on his horse. The Queen’s horse is Hammon, an Arab who had been bred in the King of Prussia’s stud at Trakehnen and was given to the Queen in 1844. The horse, according to the Queen, behaved extremely well. 

Sir Francis Grant, PRA (1803 –1878
Sketch for HM Queen Victoria (1819–1901), c. 1845/46
 Oil on canvas
33.6 x 30.7 cm
Royal Collection Trust

This is a sketch for an equestrian portrait of the Queen was painted for Christ’s Hospital in commemoration of her visit to the school. BIt was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1846. Grant had to change the position of the horse and rider during the course of the painting, apparently because the original composition was identical to Sir Edwin Landseer’s portrait of the Queen. This new design is reminiscent of Van Dyck’s portrait at Holkham Hall of the Duke of Arenberg. 

Son of a Perthshire laird, Sir Francis Grant was unusual in being largely self-taught. After spending a substantial inheritance on his great passions – hunting to hounds and collecting paintings, Grant decided to turn his considerable talents to professional use. Despite being one of the most sought after society portrait painters of his day and the only Scottish President of the Royal Academy in London, Queen Victoria observed ‘He has decidedly much talent but it is the talent of an amateur’. However, Grant did find favour at court and received commissions by the Queen on several occasions during the 1840’s. More Queen Victoria on Horseback

Sir Francis Grant PRA (18 January 1803 – 5 October 1878). Scottish painter, active mainly in England. Grant was one of the most successful fashionable portraitists of his day and he also (particularly early in his career) produced sporting pictures (he came from an aristocratic family and was devoted to fox-hunting). He was perhaps at his best in portraits of young women, in which he continued the glamorous tradition of Lawrence but tempered the elegant dash with a touch of Victorian sobriety: an enchanting example is his portrait of his daughter ‘Daisy’ Grant (1857, NG, Edinburgh). More Sir Francis Grant

Studio of Allan Ramsay, EDINBURGH 1713 - 1784 DOVER
Oil on canvas, in a painted oval
76.5 x 63.5 cm.; 30 x 25 in.
Private Collection

Mary Stuart of Castlemilk married John Belsches of Invermay (1710-53), eldest son of Alexander Belsches who acquired the estate of Invermay in Perthshire. She was the daughter of Daniel Stuart (1670-1708), ancestor of the Stuarts of Fettercairn. Her daughter Emilia (1730-1807) married William Belsches of Tofts (1717-53).

Allan Ramsay (13 October 1713 – 10 August 1784) was a prominent Scottish portrait-painter. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. From the age of twenty he studied in London under the Swedish painter Hans Hysing, and at the St. Martin's Lane Academy; leaving in 1736 for Rome and Naples, where he worked for three years.

On his return in 1738, he first settled in Edinburgh, attracting attention by his head of Duncan Forbes of Culloden and his full-length portrait of the Duke of Argyll, later used on Royal Bank of Scotland banknotes. He later moved to London, where he was employed by the Duke of Bridgewater. In 1739 he married his first wife, Anne Bayne. Anne died on 4 February 1743, giving birth to their 3rd child; none of their children reached adulthood.

One of his drawing pupils was Margaret Lindsay. He later eloped with her and on 1 March 1752 they married in Edinburgh; her father never forgave her for marrying an artist. Ramsay and his new wife spent 1754 to 1757 together in Italy, researching, painting and drawing old masters, antiquities and archaeological sites. He earned income painting Grand Tourists' portraits. After their return, Ramsay was appointed to succeed John Shackelton as Principal Painter in Ordinary to George III. The king commissioned so many royal portraits to be given to ambassadors and colonial governors, that Ramsay used the services of numerous assistants.

He gave up painting in about 1770 to concentrate on literary pursuits. His health was shattered by an accidental dislocation of the right arm and his second wife's death in 1782. With unflinching pertinacity, he struggled until he had completed a likeness of the king upon which he was engaged at the time, and then started for his beloved Italy. He left a series of 50 royal portraits to be completed by his assistant Reinagle. For several years he lingered in the south, his constitution finally broken. He died at Dover on 10 August 1784. More Allan Ramsay

Allan Ramsay, EDINBURGH 1713 - 1784 DOVER
Oil on canvas, in a painted oval
76.3 x 62.5 cm.; 30 x 24 5/8  in.
Private Collection

Clementina Walkinshaw, whose father, John Walkinshaw of Barrowfield, had fought in the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion for ‘the Old Pretender’, was the mistress of Bonnie Prince Charlie. Clementina first met Charles Edward Stuart when she nursed him back to health, apparently from a cold, at her uncle’s home at Bannockburn in January 1746, but it was not until November 1752 that she travelled to Belgium to live with the Prince. The attachment was not a happy one, with Charles disillusioned, alcoholic and possessive of Clementina, though neglectful of their only child, Charlotte. Reports told of unpleasant public arguments and violence towards Clementina who, in 1760, escaped with her daughter to Paris, and spent the next twelve years in French convents. Although Charlotte and her father were eventually reunited, she died just under two years after his death in 1788, aged only 36. Clementina, never reconciled with the Prince, outlived them both by over ten years, seeking refuge from the French Revolution in Switzerland. More Clementina Walkinshaw

Sir Anthony van Dyck,  (1599-1641)
Margaret Lemon (fl.1635-1640)  c.1638
Oil on canvas
93.3 x 77.8 cm
Cumberland Art Gallery, Presence Chamber, Hampton Court Palace

Margaret Lemon was Van Dyck’s mistress. A fellow artist of Van Dyck, Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-77), described her as violently jealous, even on one occasion attempting to bite Van Dyck’s thumb off. It is believed that this portrait was left unfinished because of the artist’s marriage in February 1640 to the more respectable court beauty Mary Ruthven (c.1622-44). 

The painting depend upon the same Titian model, his Woman in a Fur Wrap (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) (below), then in the collection of Charles I, which had been copied by Rubens during his 1629-30 stay in England and which Van Dyck could study daily. Van Dyck follows Titian more closely than Rubens (below) does, except in rejecting fur in favour of the equally sensuous and suggestive textures of silk. The poses of all three paintings (by Rubens, Titian and Van Dyck) derive from the antique statue called the Venus Pudica or Modest Venus, because she seeks to conceal her breasts with her arm. Margaret Lemon similarly presses a silk wrap against her body, while Titian’s figure appears to be donning or doffing a fur garment. 

Sir Anthony van Dyck, ( 22 March 1599 – 9 December 1641) was a Flemish Baroque artist who became the leading court painter in England, after enjoying great success in Italy and Flanders. He is most famous for his portraits of Charles I of England and his family and court, painted with a relaxed elegance that was to be the dominant influence on English portrait-painting for the next 150 years. He also painted biblical and mythological subjects, displayed outstanding facility as a draughtsman, and was an important innovator in watercolour and etching. The Van Dyke beard is named after him. More Sir Anthony van Dyck

Follower of Sir Anthony van Dyck
Oil on canvas
108 x 86 cm.; 42 1/2  x 33 3/4  in.
Private Collection

A copy after the unfinished original portrait by Van Dyck, of circa 1638, in The Royal Collectio (above)

Titian, 1488 - 1576
Young Woman with a Fur Coat, c. 1535.
Oil on canvas
Height: 95 cm (37.4 in). Width: 63 cm (24.8 in).
Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna.

The figure stands angled towards the viewer’s left in a composed and demure stance while making eye contact.  She wears a rich, fur coat but appears to be in the process of removing the garment and thus revealing her right breast and arm.  The young woman is adorned with a jeweled headdress, ring and bracelet; and pearl earrings and necklace that were costly even for people of means during the Renaissance.

The woman’s sensual and soft hand on the fur wrap implies physical intimacy with a viewer, potentially making her a prostitute.  Furthermore, this amount of visible skin suggests eroticism, and thus the notion that prostitutes possibly wanting to emulate proper women, but without directly discussing with Titian himself one cannot be certain that this work of art is a portrait of a prostitute or a woman of status.

It is possible for the girl to be part of the high-ranking society.  If she were married, she would be celebrating the status of her husband by wearing such rich clothing.  At the same time she surrendered herself to him as his companion since her attire was dependent on him because of society’s gender roles. More Young Woman with a Fur Coat

Tiziano Vecelli or Tiziano Vecellio, or Titian (1488/1490 – 27 August 1576), was an Italian painter, the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. 

Recognized by his contemporaries as "The Sun Amidst Small Stars", Titian was one of the most versatile of Italian painters, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of color, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art.

During the course of his long life, Titian's artistic manner changed drastically but he retained a lifelong interest in color. Although his mature works may not contain the vivid, luminous tints of his early pieces, their loose brushwork and subtlety of tone are without precedent in the history of Western painting. More Titian

Sir Peter Paul Rubens, (b. 1577, Siegen, d. 1640, Antwerpen)
The Fur ("Het Pelsken"), c. 1630s
Oil on wood
176 x 83 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

In this painting the artist portrayed his second wife, Helene Fourment nude but for a fur. This was certainly his favourite among the many paintings exhibiting her undeniable charms. At all events, he refused to part with Het Pelsken. In tones worthy of Titian, he painted Helene with curly hair, her nipples erect, her nudity barely concealed by a fur wrap better suited to her husband's bulk than her own. Her expression is difficult to read: is her mutinous air intended as a provocation, or was she simply anxious to wrap herself up against the cold?

Nudity as an attribute of mythological beauty, which provided its "justification", was by no means new, but for Rubens the unusual picture of the naked Helene is exclusively private in character. Helene is standing on a red cloth and is wrapping herself, apparently spontaneously with a white cloth and a fur cloak. She is holding both in such a way that each arm crosses in front of her body covering the pelvic region, but pushing her breasts up in the crook of her right arm. Here, together with the face, the intimate gaze of the painter is betrayed. The title Het Pelsken ("The Little Fur") is due to Rubens himself, who described the painting thus in his will. He bequeathed it as a separate item to his wife and also stipulated expressly that it should not be offset against her official share of his estate. It was only after her death in 1658 that it passed into other hands. More Het Pelsken

Sir Peter Paul Rubens (28 June 1577 – 30 May 1640) was a Flemish Baroque painter. A proponent of an extravagant Baroque style that emphasized movement, colour, and sensuality, Rubens is well known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes, and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.
In addition to running a large studio in Antwerp that produced paintings popular with nobility and art collectors throughout Europe, Rubens was a classically educated humanist scholar and diplomat who was knighted by both Philip IV of Spain and Charles I of England.  More Sir Peter Paul Rubens

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