Completed Dress and Textiles, Military History, Portraits: British 18th C, Portraits: British 19th C 49 Could this portrait of Sir Hilgrove Turner and its pair of Lady Turner be by William Beechey?

Sir Hilgrove Turner
Topic: Artist

This looks like the work of William Beechey. Compare below:
The same applies to the female pair of this portrait in the same collection, which is bound to be by the same hand:
Compare below:
A public discussion may be worthwhile.

Jacinto Regalado, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. There is not enough evidence to support attributing this pair of portraits to William Beechey, but they have been updated from ‘unknown artist’ to ‘British School’. The portraits of Sir Hilgrove Turner and Lady Hilgrove Turner have been dated to c.1800 and early 19th C respectively. The title ‘Lady Hilgrove Turner’ has been updated to ‘Esther (née Senecant/Senecaut), Lady Hilgrove Turner (1773/1774–1863)’.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


Jacob Simon,

I thought from the Art Detective guidelines that we did not answer enquiries about art in private ownership, as this one is.

David Rowlands,

This officer is wearing the Undress uniform of the Foot Guards: plain scarlet coat with blue lapels, collar and cuffs; the collar & lapels laced all round in gold. The round cuffs were blue, also edged in gold lace. Each of the three regiments of Foot Guards spaced its buttons in a regimental spacing. Nine pairs of buttons in threes, as in this portrait, show that he is in the 3rd Foot Guards; (from 1831 called the Scots Fusilier Guards; from 1877 the Scots Guards). The skirts of the coat were of white kerseymere edged gold. Ensigns wore only one right-hand epaulette (gold laced strap with gold bullions). Captains of Foot Guards wore only one epaulette until March 1809. Higher ranks (and captains after March 1809) wore two epaulettes.
Tomkyns Hilgrove Turner (born 1764) was appointed Ensign in the Third Foot Guards on 20 February 1782. Officers in the Foot Guards held a rank in their regiment and at the same time a higher rank in the Army. Turner was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and Captain (in the Army) on 13 October 1789. He saw much action with his regiment in the Duke of York's campaign in Flanders (including the Battle of Lincelles, 18 Aug 1793). He was promoted to Captain in the 3rd Foot Guards and Lieutenant-Colonel (in the Army) on 12 November 1794, after which it seems that he returned to England. He was promoted to brevet Colonel on 1st January 1801 and served with his regiment in the Egyptian campaign. As the uniform displays one epaulette, if this portrait is of Tomkyns Hilgrove Turner, it was painted before 1801.

Jacob Simon,

David's analysis of the uniform is really useful.

The portrait is a bit lack lustre for Beechey.

Kieran Owens,

Art UK clarification is required as to their guidelines surrounding contributors' research relating to works in private ownership. For how long is the portrait on loan?

Jacinto Regalado,

The picture can be dated to c. 1800, when the sitter would have been in his mid thirties. Perhaps Lou Taylor could address the date of the lady's dress and hair. Beechey was eminently competent but relatively dull compared to someone like Lawrence.

Osmund Bullock,

Historically, at least, many - perhaps most - private loans made to local museums and archives were of indefinite duration. As such they could and can be called in by the owner or their legal current heir at any time, though in practice they are far more often effectively permanent. So it may be that your question is unanswerable, Kieran.

My personal feeling is that this is a circumstance where we shouldn't be *too* prescriptive. There are already many artworks represented on Art UK - those in Oxbridge colleges, for instance - whose collections are not publicly-owned, but are deemed to be semi-public exceptions. I think works on long-term loan to public collections could similarly for our purposes be considered as semi-public for the duration, as they are in public possession. I would expect them to be readily accessible to enquirers, and preferably on regular display; if they are never seen, and/or requests for access have to be referred to the owner, I might take a different view.

Jersey Heritage,

For clarification these two works are on long term loan and on permanent display and we thank you for your interest.

Martin Hopkinson,

The sitter was an amateur etcher and private secretary to George IV, whose print collecting he helped

Marcie Doran,

Associated with Martin’s research, here is a letter dated July 24, 1813 from Beechey to Sir Hilgrove Turner that is held in the Royal Collection Trust. It would make sense that, after assisting Beechey with presenting sketches to the Regent, he commissioned his own portrait. Or, perhaps he was already aquainted with Beechey.

Bonham’s today has a Beechey with the same

Jacinto Regalado,

Very interesting, Marcie. It may well be that Turner and Beechey were acquainted because the latter had previously painted Turner and his wife. By 1813 Turner was nearly 50, which is too old, I think, for the man in our portrait.

Marcie Doran,

Here is a painting by John Singleton Copley that shows Brigadier General Tomkyns Hilgrove Turner in the early 1800s that will interest you.

“As indicated in the painting’s full title, the prince is joined by four military leaders, including Captain Baron von Eben of the 10th Light Dragoons; Lieutenant General Lord Francis Augustus Elliott, Second Baron Heathfield; Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Bloomfield of the Royal Horse Artillery; and Brigadier General Tomkyns Hilgrove Turner.”

Jacob Simon,

Thinking about the pair to the portrait of Hilgrove Turner, see . It is worth noting that Hilgrove Turner married Esther Senecant at St Alfege, Greenwich, on 24 February 1803 and they had a daughter christened in June 1804.

The introduction to this discussion claimed the portraits were bound to be by the same hand. But we have a situation where HIS portrait is thought to have been painted before 1801 (David Rowlands, 18/06/2021). Whereas HER portrait probably dates to around her marriage in 1803 (a reasonable dating for the costume).

So we should not assume without evidence that the portraits were painted at the same time and by the same artist.

Jacob Simon,

The artist looked to Van Dyck for her pose. And for the background roses.

Jacinto Regalado,

I don't suppose there's a Beechey catalogue raisonné, is there?

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

Lady Turner's beautiful red silk velvet dress, with its very fashionable 'Van Dyke' lace edging, dates from c 1817. The height of the waistline also indicates this date, as it was higher before and lower by 1820. See 3 images:

-Robe de Tulle, 1817 with red silk Van Dyke edging around the neck line. Journal Des Dames, 2 Année, Univ. Of Yale Library Dig Coll.

-Cream-coloured silk evening Dress Fashion Museum Bath, with Van Dyke piped satin Can Dyke edging 1817

-Ball dress with tablier with Van Dyke edging, Ackerman' Repository April 1817 NY Public LIB Dig.Coll.

I hope this is of some indirect help.

Jacob Simon,

In my experience Lady Turner’s short sleeves in the English style lack the elaboration of these Parisian fashions of 1817 and the cut of her dress is less structured. This makes me reasonably confident in dating the costume to the preceding decade. Costume dating is not an exact science.

Osmund Bullock,

Assuming it is Lady Turner (née Esther Senecant/Senecaut), I have to agree it's likely to be earlier than 1817, when she would have been around 42 and in my view too old for this sitter - she died in Sep 1863, aged 88. And her daughter Charlotte Esther (b. May 1804) would have been too young.

Marcie Doran,

The January 4, 1842, will of Sir Hilgrove Turner (National Archives PROB 11/1981/311) does not mention pictures but does mention his wife Esther and their children.

Their children were:
1. Frederick Henry Turner (born July 26, 1798, d. May 7, 1872);
2. Magdalen Esther Charlotte Turner (b. October 8, 1800, baptised October 11, 1800, d. January 8, 1895);
3. Charlotte Esther Turner (b. May 7, 1804, married Reverend Henry Octavius Cox/Coxe, d. April 14, 1895);
4. Adolphus Turner (b. September 2, 1805, married Eliza McNeill June 29, 1843); and,
5. George François/Francis Turner (baptised September 24, 1818, married Laura Harriet Bullock in 1847, d. March 12, 1911).

If I could order wills, I would order the wills of Esther Turner and Frederick Henry Turner.

Marcie Doran,

In case the sitter posed for his portrait in 1795, following his promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel, I had considered George Romney (1734-1802) for this portrait.

I have attached a composite that includes three works: this work, Jacinto’s second link (Beechey's 'Admiral Sir George Campbell (d.1821)') and Romney's 'Portrait of George Osborn' (

While the coat in this work is quite similar to the Romney coat, the trousers are not at all like the Romney trousers – they are much more like the Beechey trousers.

Jacinto Regalado,

In both cases (husband and wife), enlarging the images of the portraits makes them look better or more accomplished. They are good enough to have been done by someone of Beechey's level, even if not by him, or not both by him.

Jacob Simon,

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states, “Turner was promoted captain of the 3rd foot guards in February 1795. While on service he met Esther Senecaut (1773/4–1863), the adopted daughter of the French royalist L'Oignon family. They were married, on 24 March 1795, at the Catholic chapel at Wildhausen, Westphalia (confirmed by a protestant ceremony at Greenwich on 24 February 1803).”

This means reviewing my post of 17 February which referred only to the marriage ceremony in 1803. But the conclusion to my post, that husband and wife may not have been painted by the same artist at the same time, remains valid.

Jacob Simon,

Both portraits are on loan from a private lender, presumably a descendant. Might the family be able to tell us more? Might the family or Jersey Heritage have access to family records?

Jacinto Regalado,

It is also possible that the portraits were painted at different times by the same artist. As for the age of Esther at the time she was painted, it is difficult to be certain based on her physical appearance (as opposed to dress and hair style), because some degree of flattery could certainly be involved. While she seems younger than early 40s, it is not inconceivable that she could have been that age at the time.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

As to Jacob’s comments- I agree entirely that dress history is not an exact science and did not mean to suggest that 1817 would be THE exact date for Lady Turner’s red dress portrait… However there are similarities between Mrs Turmer’s red dress and style details in the Paris images and I must admit that I don't hold with the view that somehow English fashions were simpler and less structured than Parisian ones ….. The red ribbon tied centre front in Lady Turner’s portrait reflects the fact that the waistline was starting to drop slightly in fashionable circles by the time this was portrait was being painted. That ribbon addition and the use of transparent overlays are often used as waistlines or the style of sleeves etc get larger/smaller or higher/lower…. The one big issue for me is the height of the waist. Please see the slow shift in waist height from1805- 1812-17.

Image 1: Miniature of an Unknown woman, 1804 by George Engleheart [ V and A P.58..1910], with extreme high waist.

Image 2: 1807 Mary Norcliffe’s Wedding-Dress, York, waist still very high [ V and A . T.12-2013]-

Image 3: Ackerman’s Repository August, 1809 - waist still high. Hathi Trust and NY Publi LIb.

Image 4: Ackerman’s Repository, Vol 7. 1812 Half Dress with slightly lower waistline, close to Lady Turner’s style. NY Publi Lib.

Image: 5 Ackerman’s Re.Dress of silk and blonde lace Vol 12 1814 with slightly dropped waist- like Lady Turner’s .NY Publi LIb

Finally just to cause even more confusion, and to reinforce Jacob’s view that dress history is not an exact science, we have Images 6 and 7, both from Ackerman’s Repository for July 1817.

Image 6: Evening dress with the same high waist as 1804-7

Image 7: the dinner dress in the new slightly lower-waisted style as from c 1812

Image 8: Evening dress 1820 Ackerman’s Repository Vol. 10 Oct. 1820. The highest waisted style is almost tucked under the breasts, the slightly lower one is simply not.

Jacob Simon,

Arthur Loveday’s 1964 biography of Sir Hilgrove Turner reproduces the portraits of Sir Hilgrove and Lady Turner in matching frames, as in the attachment. Loveday dates the portraits to circa 1815. This would be when Sir Hilgrove was about 50 and his wife about 40. Sir Hilgrove’s white hair could be that of a man of fifty but the style of the portrait and indeed the uniform as analysed by David Rowlands (18/06/2021) suggest a date of around 1800 when Sir Hilgrove would have been 36. Furthermore, the picture frames, which could be original, appear to be 1790s in style.

The framed image of the picture shows a picture tablet at bottom centre. If still in place, I wonder what it says?

1 attachment
Jacinto Regalado,

Sir Hilgrove definitely does not look 50 but could easily be in his 30s. His wife may have been painted later, and her age is harder to judge.

Marcie Doran,

The title of this work is shown as “Lt Gen. Sir T. Hilgrove Turner" in 'British and Irish paintings in public collections: an index of British and Irish oil paintings by artists born before 1870 in public and institutional collections in the United Kingdom and Ireland' compiled by Christopher Wright with Catherine Gordon and Mary Peskett Smith.

Jacob, the Collection have commented: 'Lt General Sir T.Hilgrove Turner, Lt.Governor of Jersey 1814-16. On Loan by A.F. Loveday Esq O.B.E' [same loan details recorded on the painting of Lady Hilgrove too]. Unfortunately there is no mention on the plaque or elsewhere of the artist’s name.'

Marcie Doran,

The Jersey heritage website "Jerripedia" provides some information about Turner family wills. I suspect that no paintings were mentioned in Esther's will, Andrew.

Note that, in 1911, the first person listed, Adolphus Hilgrove Turner, bequeathed paintings to various people including Magdalen Loveday. A family tree on Ancestry shows that a Magdalen Louisa Turner (1851–1936)(parents unknown) married George Loveday (1828–1907) in 1875.

A search for the marriage in the BNA shows that Magdalen Louisa Turner was the daughter of Rev. G. F. Turner, Rector of Rede. He was the third son of Sir Hilgrove Turner (see my post of 18/02/2022 18:55).

One of the sons of Magdalen and George Loveday was Arthur Frederick Loveday (1878–1968). I suspect that he was the author Arthur F. Loveday.

Jersey Heritage,

A colleague has checked the testament for Esther Turner and it doesn’t mention the portraits of Sir Hilgrove-Turner or Lady Hilgrove- Turner, it just talks bout leaving various money, jewellery and watches to her sons and daughters.

Jersey Heritage,

A colleague has checked the testament held by Jersey Heritage for Esther Turner and it doesn’t mention the portraits of Sir Hilgrove-Turner or Lady Hilgrove- Turner, it just talks about leaving various money, jewellery and watches to her sons and daughters.

Jacob Simon,

This discussion, “Could this portrait of Sir Hilgrove Turner and its pair of Lady Turner be by William Beechey?” has probably run its course.

While Sir Hilgrove knew Beechey at a later date, we have not located documentation for our portraits, despite Marcie’s detailed research. Looking at the two portraits stylistically and from their costume, I would be content with a date of about 1800 for the portrait of Sir Hilgrove and perhaps just a few years later for that of Lady Turner, as indicated above. However, there are divergent views on the dating of her portrait.

As to the artist Beechey is a possibility but in my view it is not possible to make an attribution of this kind using onscreen images. The portrait of Lady Turner, whether or not by the same artist, is distinctive in treatment, echoing Van Dyck’s portraits.

As to the discussion question, I suggest that the answer is that one or other or both portraits could be by Beechey but that the evidence is too slight to make an attribution. On this basis I propose to recommend closing this discussion shortly unless further evidence is forthcoming.

Jacob Simon,

I am now recommending that we close this discussion, as set out above. One or other or both portraits could be by Beechey but the evidence is too slight to make an attribution.

Mark Wilson,

I assume someone at Jersey Heritage has already checked the will of Adolphus Hilgrove Turner (d 1911) which is on their website ( As Marcie mentions above (02/03/2022 13:29), the part that we can see of this includes a number of paintings, identified by artist, and Magdalen Loveday received at least "the collar of the Guelphie Order" which was awarded to Sir (Tomkyns) Hilgrove Turner by his patron the Prince Regent ( So for the portraits to be bequeathed the same way doesn't seem unlikely.

As Marcie said Magdalen Loveday was the granddaughter of Sir HT, and A H Turner was a grandson via his second son Adolphus (1805-1849). He lived at the family property of Gouray Lodge, originally inherited from Sir HT's mother. He held legal positions in Jersey, but never married ( and seems to have been the last of the family to live there. Magdalen would have been one of his closest Turner relatives and an obvious recipient for with the pictures then descending to her son, who later lent them to Jersey Heritage.

Regarding the dating of the pictures, I don't think we should worry about his hair. Hair powdering was still common in the 1790s, only really declining after the guinea tax of 1795 and the military were exempt. The face seems more that of a man in his thirties and uniform dating it to pre-1801 must be the best guide. Lady Turner's dress may be a bit later, with that square neckline not really being seen till after 1800, but as they are the same size and in matching 1790s frames, if her portrait was later it can't be by much, and if they wanted matching portraits using the same artist would be the obvious choice. From an exiled French Royalist family it may be that she wanted to appear different from the dominant form of female portraiture of the time (in casual, floaty white with material crossed over at front) with its Revolutionary associations.

There doesn't seem to be any reference to the portraits in Roberts' 1907 biography of Beechey (, though that mainly concentrates on exhibited and royal pictures. But other painters might be possible including French exiles.

Jacob Simon,

Lets grant this discussion a stay of execution so that the 1911 will can be checked. Could Jersey Heritage do this, please, I wonder?

The very few French exile artists, such as Mosnier and Danloux, did not work in a style commensurate with our portraits.

Jacob Simon,

Very many thanks to Jersey Heritage for their prompt and helpful response. We have now added to the history of the two portraits through the 1911 will, where the portraits are mentioned but without the artist being named.

As such, I am now recommending that we close this discussion, as set out above (07/03/2022 09:54). One or other or both portraits could be by Beechey but the evidence is too slight to make an attribution.

Mark Wilson,

Thanks to Jersey for checking that. It's a bit of a disappointment as the will is so detailed and meticulous (Adolphus was after all the Island's Attorney General) that if it was going to be anywhere it would be there. There's even a gap after "Lady Turner" that suggests he might have intended to insert an artist. Maybe it had been forgotten by then, which might suggest they weren't by a painter as prominent as Beechey. Though perhaps he was less famous by 1911, despite the royal links.

Given where the couple first married, I wondered if the portraits could even be by a continental artist, but they seem to be standard 'half-length' size which would suggest them being painted in Britain.

Jacob Simon,

Yes, certainly painted in Britain and presumably in London.

Jacinto Regalado,

So I would suggest British School rather than "unknown painter" be used in the artist field, for search purposes.

Marcie Doran,

Hopefully the titles of both paintings will be improved – certainly her full name and dates should be added and perhaps the title of his painting could revert to the title on the plaque.

I ordered the will of Rev. G. F. Turner yesterday but I doubt that it will mention the artist of these works. There is no need to hold the discussion open for that will, Jacob.

Jacob Simon,

Lets grant this discussion a further stay of execution so that the Rev. G. F. Turner will can be checked.

Marcie Doran,

I received the probate record (probate Bristol May 18, 1911) of Rev. G. F. Turner (d. March 12, 1911). The document was just an expanded version of the public probate entry with the added fact that his widow renounced probate. It did not include a will.

Jacinto Regalado,

In keeping with the preceding discussion, I suggest the male portrait be listed as British School c. 1800, and the female portrait as British School, early 19th century. The lady should be identified as Esther (née Senecant/Senecaut), Lady Hilgrove Turner (1773/4–1863).