Dress and Textiles, London: Artists and Subjects, Portraits: British 18th C, South West England: Artists and Subjects 9 Could Benjamin West have painted this portrait of Elizabeth Shebbeare?

Elizabeth Shebbeare, First Wife of Charles William Le Geyt
Topic: Artist

I suggest that you consider that this portrait was painted by Benjamin West (1738–1820).

Below are a few pictures that are similar to this work: https://bit.ly/2XVOfCR | https://bit.ly/3BrG7Yv | https://bit.ly/2ZD2ihi | https://bit.ly/2ZutDlu

The painting of Elizabeth Shebbeare (ES) was not in the Yale catalogue raisonné, neither attributed, not attributed or suspicious list, which I assume means that the authors did not look at the painting. Several authors mention Dr. John Shebbeare (JS) and Benjamin West (BW) in same context (esp. BW's comments on seeing Apollo Belvedere). Since BW was barely literate, the influence could not have come from just reading his works. I do not have access to BW's biography, but it would be worth seeing if he mentions JS.

The snippet view is frustrating, but this book might also provide some clue as to their relationship:
'The King's Artists : The Royal Academy of Arts and the Politics of British Culture 1760-1840: The Royal Academy of Arts and the Politics of British Culture 1760-1840' https://bit.ly/3EwhADz

I have seen primarily finished works by BW and have no idea if comparable hasty works as the ES portrait exist.

Patty Macsisak, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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9 comments

The Collection has commented: 'We do not have any information on the artist of this work. We were gifted both this portrait and that of Charles William Le Geyt in 1937 from the le Geyt family but with no accompanying documentation. There is no visible artist's signature.'

“Could Benjamin West have painted this portrait of Elizabeth Shebbeare?” My sense is that the answer to this question in this new discussion is firmly, “No”.

The portrait in question dates to the late 1760s or 1770s from the hair style. See, for example, the attached detail from Gainsborough’s portrait of his daughters dating to the early 1770s. If we look at a comparable portrait by Benjamin West, for example his portrait of Mrs William Abercromby dating to the same period, we find that West’s style was harder edged and more precise. Even allowing for the condition of our portrait, it is clearly painted in a much looser style by a less competent artist, as is apparent from the gauche handling of the left background column and foliage within the confined space of a half-length portrait contained within an oval.

We must look elsewhere to identify the minor hand behind our portrait and this search may not be straightforward.

Jacinto Regalado,

The husband's portrait in this collection has been discussed here before, and it is either by a superior hand or a more successful portrait by the same artist. See below:

https://bit.ly/31ikSvR

Jacinto Regalado,

The husband's portrait is probably earlier and may well be by a different and better hand, though some painters are less successful with female portraits than with male ones.

Osmund Bullock,

They seem to have very little in common to my eye, and certainly were not painted as a pair. Apart from hers being undoubtedly a later work (see the previous discussion for the dating of his), it is painted in an oval format; and while his background is plain and very dark, hers has both drapery and a small landscape detail.

Jacinto Regalado,

Also, West was quite a name (and presumably expensive) c. 1770, meaning he may have been too upmarket for this sitter.

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