Photo credit: Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
I believe this portrait is neither of Eva Maria Garrick, nor remotely by Boucher, nor even French. It is evidently of an Italian noblewoman – Genoese? or Neapolitan?
Does anybody have any idea of who the artist might be, and who the sitter is? It deserves to be better known.
Collection comment: We agree that the portrait is not by Boucher – this information needs correcting on the Your Paintings website. (When the painting was on display in the Town Hall in the 19th Century it was attributed to Gainsborough but again this is erroneous.) The identification of Eva Maria Garrick is from the original 1868 catalogue. We would be very interested to know why Alastair thinks the sitter is not Mrs Garrick, and would urge Alastair to elaborate further during this discussion.
This discussion is now closed. The subject has been identified as 'Portrait of an Italian Noblewoman', attributed to the Genoese artist Giovanni Maria delle Piane, known as Il Mulinaretto (1660–1745), and dated authoritatively to 1710–1720, based on the sitter’s costume. The Art UK record has been updated accordingly and the new information will be visible on the website in due course.
Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.
Comparing it with Zoffany's portrait I would say they could easily be the same sitter
Yes, the resemblance to the Polesden Lacey portrait seems strong.
...But resolution on the site makes it hard to go much further than this . It could be that the artist uses a similar facial type in his(?) female portraits, in which case both would be by Zoffany but not necessarily of the same woman. However, I didn't immediately think 'Zoffany!' when I saw this image so (assuming the attribution of the Polesden Lacey Zoffany is correct) my money would be on same woman, different artist. What are Alastair Laing's reasons for thinking it's an Italian noblewoman?
I agree with Alastair. The painting definitely seems Neapolitan. A painter around Giuseppe Bonito. It would be worth asking Nicola Spinosa.
Batoni painted Daid Garrick in Italy - Garrick and his wife left for Italy on 15th September 1763 - they stayed until 1765.
With regards the sitter it seems unlikely that a Neapolitan painter of circa 1760 would paint Eva Garrick.
I stand corrected but did he travel as far south as Naples then?
One can also compare the picture to Hogarth's double portrait of Garrick and his Wife in the Royal Collection http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/405682/david-garrick-with-his-wife-eva-maria-veigel. The resemblance between this certain representation of Eva and that at Stratford is not compelling strong .
Sorry, compellingly strong.
Interestingly the Garrick's were in Naples for three months, together with Mrs Garrick's lap-dog called 'Biddy'. They arrived on the 17th December 1763 and stayed until April. (Fitzgerald, Percy. The Life of David Garrick, p.289-291, London 1899).
Conversely 'Biddy' disproves this as Eva - 'Biddy' features on the steps in Zoffany's Shakespeare's temple painting and looks like a spaniel with large dark patches on its face and upper back.
That this is a portrait of a noblewoman, not of the wife of David Garrick (whose preference for a much more sober style of portraiture when he was in Italy can be seen in the Batoni and Angelica Kauffman portraits of him painted there), is evident from her dress, hairstyle, lapdog, and the setting with a curtain and elaborate sculpted vase.
I'm fairly confident that this picture is by Giovanni Maria delle Piane, known as Il Mulinaretto (Genoa 1660 - 1745). Like other artists who painted portraits in Francophile Genoa (but he was more of a portrait-painter than any of them), such as Domenico Parodi or Francesco Narici, he was strongly influenced by the portraits of Largillierre. They (evidently at the behest of their sitters) all tended to exaggerate the high hairstyles found in Largillierre's later portraits - he more than any of them. If you google for images of him, you will find a number of examples - there is one particularly exaggerated one (location not given) produced by Wikimedia. He painted at the courts of Parma and Naples as well as in Genoa, but I think that this portrait is most likely to have been painted in the latter.
I was just about to suggest Mulinaretto! I will come back to this in due course, but I agree with Alastair's points. Mrs Garrick seems most unlikely as a sitter.
And this is all beginning to fit with the NICE entry, which notes Aileen Ribeiro's dating of the costume to 1710-20.
For what it is worth I still think this is Neapolitan, especially looking at the still life in the background which is so reminiscent of Neapolitan still life painting.
This has been a really useful discussion - thank you to everyone who has contributed.
(Museum Collections Officer, SBT)
I have been in contact with Riccardo Lattuada, a Neapolitan specialist who asked for a hi res image. Is this possible?
Hi Tony - yes this is possible, please contact me directly for more information. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
I do not yet wish to bring this discussion to a conclusion, but I am sure that this is an Italian 18th century portrait, which seems very probably to be by Mulinaretto. Whoever the artist, Eva Maria Garrick is unlikely to be the sitter.
Could this painting be the work of Sebastiano Ceccarini (1703 - 1783), of Fano, in Italy? In the attached composite there are many striking similarities between our painting on the left, and the known Ceccarini portrait on the right, especially in the treatment of the fine material of the dress and the blue cloak. The breed of dog seems identical (possibly an Italian greyhound), with those peculiar clipped ears, and the dog collar is of a similar style. Many other paintings by Ceccarini feature lap dogs or family pet dogs.
Attached is an additional composite featuring our unidentified painting in the middle, flanked by two known to be by Sebastiano Ceccarini.
How sad that Italian painting sank to the level of a Ceccarini, or whoever may have painted the portrait under discussion--but then again, look at what happened to Italian opera.
A further attachment shows our unidentified painting, in the middle top, flanked by five paintings known to be by Sebastiano Ceccarini (1703 - 1783). Apart form the richness of the costumes and the use of jewellery in the hair and on the dresses of the sitters, of note are the very similar finger shapes in each of the works, with smooth, upward-turning finger ends and a very distinctly crooked little finger in every portrait. Perhaps this is a feature of all portraits of this time, but equally it could a significant stylistic feature of this artist's work.
If this discussions painting is by him, he was the son of Carlo Antonio Ceccarini and Maria Lavinia Fanelli. Sebastiano's father died when the painter was only thirteen, after which event he was raised by his uncle, Pastor Don Giuseppe Fanelli. He became a pupil of the painter Francesco Mancini. In late 1724 Ceccarini followed his master to Rome, where he remained until May 1729. He worked again in Rome from February 1731 to March 1735, and undertook study trips to Pesaro, Urbino, Perugia, Bologna, Venice, Florence.
On October 14, 1738, at the age of 35, he married the Candida Marini, with whom he had eleven children. His wife died in 1767. Among his students and employees were his sons Nicola and Giuseppe and the son of his sister Elisabetta, the still-life painter Carlo Magini.
And now for the attachment.....
Of all the six paintings in your composite, Kieran, the one under discussion here has the least individual or personal face; it strikes me as more generalized, stylised or mask-like than any of the others (all of whom look Italian, while this one looks more nondescript and artificial, even vaguely Oriental). That does not mean Ceccarini could not have painted it, but if he did, it was not one of his best efforts.
I don't find the structure of her face the same as that of any of theirs - only the lapdogs and their collars look alike !
The picture at the Walters Art Museum, which is directly below the Stratford picture in Kieran's composite, is a much better portrait. Again, Ceccarini may have been an uneven or variable artist, but the handling of the Stratford lady's face is not at all impressive.
This could, of course, be a "circle of" or "follower of" situation, which would make a specific or exact attribution rather more difficult, unless something like a signature or other evidence on the physical object could be found.
By way of some background material that contextualises the inclusion of this painting to the collection of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the attached clipping, from the Birmingham Daily Gazette of Friday 24th April 1863, might be of some interest.
As mentioned therein, the printed list of the donation can be seen here:
As can be seen on page 53 of the list (see attachment), item 81 describes a portrait of "Mrs. Garrick. In oil".
Does the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust hold any other portrait of Mrs. Garrick that came to it via this source? Perhaps the back of this painting has upon its frame a label with the number 81. If there is no other such portrait, Robert Bell Wheler (1785 - 1857), the antiquarian and historian of Stratford-on-Avon, must have understood this portrait to be of Eva Marie Garrick (1724 - 1822). ( See https://bit.ly/2rygdAd for his biographical details). Which is not to say that is, but perhaps a close inspection of his correspondence from various archival resources might reveal a reference by him to this painting.
The National Portrait Gallery's 1866 engraving, by George Sailsbury Shury, after William Hogarth's "Garrick Surrounded by His Friends", otherwise described as "David Garrick in the Green Room", features one intriguing element. Apart for depicting Mrs. Garrick in a somewhat similar way to our portrait, with her small mouth, her almond-shaped eyes and her long, thin eyebrows, it also depicts a small white dog (which is not at all like Hogarth's pug), which possibly suggests that the Garrick's owned such a small breed prior to acquiring their famous black and white spaniel "Mrs. Biddy". This not to suggest that the dog in our picture is the dog in the Hogarth's one. It is only to point out the couple's possible fondness for such diminutive creatures (if, in fact, it belongs to them and if the portrait is of Mrs. Garrick!).
I can confirm that the portrait under discussion is the one that was owned by Robert Bell Wheler. The Trust has no other paintings of Mrs Garrick.
Museum Collections Officer
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Thank you Rosalyn. Are there any markings or labels on the reverse of the portrait? A good quality shot would be most useful if there are.
I'm afraid that I don't know what is on the back of the painting, which is currently on loan and on display at Stratford Town Hall. The information we have on it does not mention any markings on the back although the frame was repaired (but not replaced) in 1890 after suffering some damage.
Could this be painted by Elisabeth Vigee Le Brun? She apinted portraits in this style.
Sadly no. On the basis of costume dating alone (if we accept 1710-1720, as proposed in the NICE entry) this would be impossible, for Vigée Le Brun was not born until 1755.
I have hopefully provided a link from the 'All Things Georgian' site and a painting of Ann Catley a very popular Georgian actress famed for her wavy hair. The painting had been owned by John Rhodes and loaned to the National Exhibition of 1867. There is a note on the back of the painting naming the sitter as Anne and linking it to Joshua Reynolds. There are some similarities with the face and hair style to the sitter for the Stratford painting.
However despite the label naming Ann and this lady's unusual hair the painting does not seem to match other portraits of Ann Catley as closely as one might expect. Ann was a feisty London actress whose private affairs became a matter of public rumour.
The similar hair styles suggest that the two paintings could date from the same period though whether the second painting even shows Ann Catley I am not certain.
One must return to the best-informed opinions on this portrait.
The costume has been dated by an established authority to 1710-20. I think Alaistair Laing has undoubtedly come up with the best stylistic comparison, in the work of Giovanni Maria delle Piane, Il Mulinaretto (1660 - 1745), which fits the dates. There are comparable portraits on the web, and in an Italian equivalent of the Witt library, the Fondazione Zeri: see the female portraits at
http://catalogo.fondazionezeri.unibo.it/ricerca.v2.jsp?locale=en&decorator=layout_resp&apply=true&percorso_ricerca=OA&filtroartista_OA=4038 which have striking similarities to ours.
The information regarding this painting has now been updated. Many thanks to everyone for their contributions.
Museum Collections Officer
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust