Completed Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 16th and 17th C, Portraits: British 19th C 48 If this is not Sir Thomas Fanshawe, who might it be?

Sir Thomas Fanshawe of Jenkins (1628–1705)
Topic: Execution date

This portrait is described as 'Sir Thomas Fanshawe, in the manner of Mary Beale'. Recent conservation work has revealed that it is in fact a late 19th or early 20th century copy of an unknown portrait. Whilst the sitter does bear more than a passing facial resemblance to our other portraits of Sir Thomas Fanshawe, we are not aware of the existence of a portrait from which this could have been copied. In light of the recent discoveries, we are now questioning whether this is actually Sir Thomas. We are unable to follow the trail of provenance as the former owner died in 2012.

Does anyone recognise this portrait? There has been some suggestion that it looks similar to a portrait of King James II. Are there any suggestions regarding sitter or artist, or why a portrait may have been copied so long after the original was painted?

Valence House Museum, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. This portrait was previously catalogued as ‘style of Mary Beale’, which has been changed to ‘British (English) School’. The title has been updated from ‘Sir Thomas Fanshawe of Jenkins (1628–1705)’ to ‘Unknown man, said to be Sir Thomas Fanshawe (1680s, copy of)’. The painting description now includes the suggestion that the sitter may be the Duke of Monmouth, whose half sister Mary (née Crofts) married into the Fanshawe family.

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.


M M Gilchrist,

Not James II & VII – Too young for period of outfit.
Duke of Monmouth?

Jimaa Alaa,

I think this is George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh legal writer, in his early life!

Jacinto Regalado,

The other portraits of the purported sitter at Valence House are by or after Lely, and the autograph portraits strike me as being of a different person.

Valence House Museum,

If we were to assume that this is a later copy of an original work (now unlocated) once held by the Fanshawe family, there is every possibility that a portrait of the Duke of Monmouth would have been found within their familial collection. Mary Walter, (half) sister to the Duke, married William Fanshawe, so it is not outside the realm of possibility that a portrait of him may have passed to her descendants.

Jacob Simon,


This discussion is about a head-and-shoulders portrait on canvas said to be in the style of Mary Beale. It has been in the collection at Valence House Museum, Dagenham, apparently since 2007 when purchased at auction (note that the “acquisition method” has lost a final digit).

The discussion was launched in April 2021 by Valence House and attracted six contributions in its first four days before going quiet.

Valence House stated that recent conservation work has revealed that the picture is in fact a late 19th or early 20th-century copy of an unknown original. It is therefore frustrating that the image online appears to be before cleaning. Or did the work not involve cleaning?

On costume grounds the original may date to the 1680s or thereabouts. Can we make progress either in identifying the sitter or the artist?

THE SITTER will prove difficult to identify unless we can locate the original. I will do a bit of digging but I’m not optimistic.

THE ARTIST is often difficult to identify when examining a copy. It is even more so in this case because the image online is before cleaning. I don’t think the portrait has much to do with Mary Beale. Instead I would be looking at an artist whose handling is more solid such as John Riley as can be seen from Art UK images.

Can we see an image post-cleaning, please, and perhaps a summary of the conservation report?

Jacob Simon,

The link to the Valence House website on Art UK no longer works but a Google search brings up their current site.

Attached are images of the picture in its frame of c.1880-1930. And of the canvas reverse with a faint Winsor & Newton stamp of much the same era. Whether the original canvas or a lining canvas would be revealed in the conservation report.

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Jacob Simon,

Marcie helpfully provides a link to the Bonham's 2007 sale. Two points of note. The picture was described as "Portrait of a gentleman, said to be Sir Thomas Fanshawe", i.e. "said to be". And the reproduction of the picture, attached, almost seems like another work if one was not looking carefully.

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Jacinto Regalado,

Another Lely portrait of Fanshawe is

We are dealing with a copy, possibly a restored one, but Lely shows a thinner, more drawn face with a different chin and different eyes. I do not believe our picture is of the Fanshawe in question.

Marcie Doran,

Can the name of the former owner be supplied? It might be possible for me to communicate with his/her family members on Ancestry.

Jacinto Regalado,

Also, if the original was c. 1680s, the sitter looks too young to be the Fanshawe in question, who would have been in his fifties then.

Osmund Bullock,

Re the former owner, I'm not sure who you're asking, Marcie. Unless their name is in the auction catalogue (very unlikely), only Bonham's will know - and they will certainly not reveal it for many years (Christie's, for example, have a 50-year rule). They may be willing to forward a query from you on to the vendor (without revealing his/her identity), but such enquiries often go unanswered. Could be worth trying, I suppose, but for me the picture's importance/quality doesn't merit a huge amount of least by me!

Jacob Simon,

There are a vast number of "very similar" paintings. With a portrait of this kind, to be helpful in identifying the sitter "very similar" is not enough. The similarity needs to be exact.

Jacinto Regalado,

The hair and patterned tea gown are similar to this 1687 portrait which, as Jacob noted, supports that the original was from the 1680s. Again, the sitter looks too young to be in his fifties, as the purported sitter would have been at the time.

Jacob Simon,

SITTER: As I promised on 9/03/2023, I have done a bit of digging -- but without success. Bonhams saleroom description of our picture, "Portrait of a gentleman, said to be Sir Thomas Fanshawe" should be noted. It's far from obvious that the likeness and age of the man in our portrait fit with the earlier more certain portraits of Sir Thomas Fanshawe of Jenkins. Thus I would favour something along the lines, Unknown man, said to be Sir Thomas Fanshawe.

ARTIST: As to the artist of the original painting (ours is a copy), I continue to think that it has does not have much to do with Mary Beale. English school, 1680s, would be nearer the mark. Not really enough evidence to suggest John Riley though he is nearer the mark in handling.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

All I can do here is to confirm - via the clothes etc in this portrait - that it dates from c.1685-90. He is dressed in very costly, fashionable clothes. A few years ago I discussed the banyan in the portrait of Nathaniel Cholmley, died 1687, with Lesley Miller, then Head of Textiles at the V and A. She explained that the front and back of banyans were cut from one length of fabric, with the pattern facing the correct direction at the back but becoming upside down over the whole of the front. Maybe the banyan in the portrait under discussion here is of Lyon - c.1680-1700 - silk which looks rather Baroque in design.

The cravat could be of very costly Gros Point de Venise lace. See attached image: from the Textile Centre, Leiden, of a 'Young Man from the Chigi Family,' by Jacob F. Voet, painter - died in 1689 - wearing a Gros Point de Venice cravat.

The long wig fits in with these dates.

The similarity between 'our' portrait and that of the V and A's 'Portrait of a young man', attributed to Louis Ferdinand Elle, c.1685 (V & A, P.68-1917) is quite remarkable.’

Jacinto Regalado,

The idea that this might be the Duke of Monmouth remains attractive, but I doubt that can be proven. In any case, the sitter is too young to be a man in his latter fifties to early sixties, as the purported sitter would have been in 1685-1690.

Thank you for all the help offered here to Valance House. Perhaps it's time to close this by updating the title to 'Portrait of a Gentleman, said to be Sir Thomas Fanshawe' and refer to it as 'English School, 1680s (copy of)' rather than style of Mary Beale, as Jacob Simon has suggested? Unless anyone has more to add?

The acquisition date has been amended to 2007.

I'll check that the group leaders agree before closing it later this week.

Jacinto Regalado,

It is up to the collection, of course, but I would favour 'Portrait of a Gentleman (formerly called Sir Thomas Fanshawe)'

Jacob Simon,

Probably Charles Henry Fanshawe (1874-1948)

Marcie Doran,

Thank you, Jacob. I’ve ordered his will as well as that of his father Henry Ernest Fanshawe (1844–1913) and his son Richard Henry Simon Fanshawe (1912–1985). I’ll likely receive the documents next week.

Osmund Bullock,

I fear the man in your snippet may not be Sir Thomas Fanshawe, Kt of Jenkins (1628-1705), but his father's first cousin Sir Thomas Fanshawe, KB (1596–1665), created Viscount Fanshawe of Dromore in 1661.

The full page from which the snippet comes is attached (cheated out of Google books). It relates to events in May 1659, when Thomas F of Jenkins had not yet been knighted (which happened in Dec 1660), while the future Viscount had been a knight since 1626. The latter, too, was certainly "delinquent and sequestered" by parliament for his royalist support. I am still not certain, though, which man it was - the description of him as rightful patron of the living at Dengie in 1659 was clearly retrospective, and I think written after Thomas F of Jenkins had been knighted, so either is possible. You need to research which of them owned the manor and its right of presentation of clergy *at that date*. To complicate matters, Thomas of J married as his second wife the Viscount's daughter, so the property's 1923 ownership could have derived from either branch!

In any case, whichever man it refers to, there are known good portraits of both of them among the Fanshawe family ones at Valence House, so I'm not sure what more you're hoping to discover from all those Wills! See and

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Osmund Bullock,

Yes, it seems the Dengie estate was owned by Viscount Fanshawe's branch of the family, and the portrait referred to must be of him. It was inherited from the 5th and last Viscount in 1716 by his nearest male heir, Thomas Edward F (d. 1726), a member of yet another branch of the family. It was Thomas's grandmother, Lucy Walter, who was the sister of the Duke of Monmouth.

Major Chas Hy Fanshawe (and his younger brother the Rev Richd Evelyn F, Rector of Dengie and author of the piece in Essex Review) were descendants of this branch. Major Fanshawe (1874-1948) sold Dengie in 1929.

Howard Jones,

To correct Osmund Bullock who continues to supply so much good evidence and special solutions I feel a trifle humble. However Lucy Walter was the Mistress of the young King Charles II and the mother of the Duke of Monmouth, not the sister.

This link should provide a picture of a disputed portrait of Lucy in 'artdetective discussions'.

Marcie Doran,

Thank you for taking the time to research that small amount of intriguing text, Osmund. I wasn't able to identify the family and, since this work was purchased quite recently at auction, I had hoped that I could trace it back to a will.

Here’s a link to the research done by Valence House to investigate copies of its paintings (Louis, 09/03/2023 17:03).

Marcie Doran,

The wills have arrived and they weren’t helpful. Richard Henry Simon Fanshawe’s will didn’t even mention the “family pictures”.

Jacob Simon,

Thanks for trying, Marcie. I suspect that we have now taken this as far as we can.

Osmund Bullock,

I rather agree, Jacob.

A quick thank you to Howard for correcting my rushed and careless error about Lucy Walter. While she was indeed the grandmother of Thomas Edward Fanshawe (who inherited Dengie in 1716), it was his *mother* (and Lucy's daughter) Mary née Crofts who was the Duke of Monmouth's [half] sister.

I think the Dengie Manor portraits are among those that ended up at Valence House; so as the Collection noted a couple of years ago, a portrait of the Duke (albeit an unconvincing copy) is circumstantially not improbable.

Jacinto Regalado,

I think it reasonable to add a note to the Art UK entry like "It has been suggested that the sitter may be the Duke of Monmouth, whose half sister Mary (née Crofts) married into the Fanshawe family."

Osmund Bullock,

I would support that, Jacinto, and your suggested wording covers it admirably.

Robin Levy,

Good morning, we own Dengie Manor and have the original, if of interest?

Valence House Museum,

Thank you to everyone for their comments so far. I have been following them with interest but haven't had the opportunity to respond and join the conversation.

Your interest in this portrait is much appreciated and your insights have helped to form a much clearer understanding of the portrait.

Jacob Simon,

Marion suggested (04/04/2023) that it could be time to close this discussion. But it was then given a new lease of life when the original of our copy was reported by Robin Levy (26/06/2023). However, no movement since unless Valence House has something to report. If not, then Marion's suggestion of closing the discussion may now be appropriate.

Valence House Museum,

Unfortunately, all attempts to contact Robin Levy regarding the original portrait have been unsuccessful. Therefore, no progress has been made in identifying the sitter. I am happy for this thread to be closed.