Dress and Textiles, South West England: Artists and Subjects, Portraits: British 18th C 61 Was Colonel Brydges of Avington painted in the late 1740s by George Beare?

HMP_WINCM_a1494
Topic: Artist

Is this by George Beare and a painting of the late 1740s? Compare the paintings by Beare already recorded on BBC Your Paintings. Beare worked in Salisbury not so far from Winchester. George Beare (d.1749) on Your Paintings: http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/artists/george-beare

The collection note: 'I agree that George Beare is a possibility as the painter of this portrait. The style is not dissimilar to his paintings and he was not restricted to Salisbury. Comparison with Beare's work by an art historian would be worthwhile.'

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

61 comments

Edward Stone,

Following a technical error, some recent comments have not been recorded. Below, I have posted the following comment originally from Justin Grant-Duff:

Why don't you ask the Brydges family? Its obvious this was probably another 'fire sale' for payment of death duties. If you ask the descendants of the same name what they know. Secondly it appears that a man called Beare is responsible? Who was he and why can he not be placed in Salisbury or Winchester with any great conviction? There seems to be too many imponderables here. Tracking back to the original owners is the best bet. I presume Brydges, wherever Avington might be ?!, - was a relative of Thomas, Duke of Chandos. They were originally a Welsh family who lived in Herefordshire - Brydges. You could then find the genealogy with relative ease.

Edward Stone,

Following a technical error, some recent comments have not been recorded. Below, I have posted the following comment originally from Winchester City Council’s Topographical Art Collection:

Thank you for your suggestions Justin. The City of Winchester could well have been the original owner of the painting as Brydges was an MP for Winchester. Maybe it was commissioned by him and gifted to the city. We know the painting has been in the ownership of the city since at least 1829 when it is mentioned in a description of St John's Rooms, Winchester. When opportunities arise the city minutes are consulted for possible references to commissions or gifts of art from benefactors. George Beare may be responsible, to be determined if possible, but unfortunately there is little know about him. This is not unusual for provincial artists. Avington Park is close to Winchester and was one of the family houses at the time. Tracking down references in family archives is not always easy as their estates were across many counties. Unfortunately I am often frustrated with how much research is needed on the collections and how little time there is.

R. Stephens,

My comment wasn't posted either. This is surely a Hudson? Too flashy and insufficiently solid for Beare. Hudson worked in the south and south west. this is my fourth (and last) attempt to post the comment. I have so often lost comments on this site that I have all but given up being involved.

Patty Macsisak,

Mr. Stephens, I am sure that I arrived at Thomas Hudson as a candidate for the artist via a less direct manner than you did, but arrive I did. Here is the entry I tried to post repeatedly yesterday:
---
George Brydges, son of George Rodney Brydges (aft. 1649-1714) and his wife, Anna Maria Brudenell (1642-1702). She married first Francis Talbot, 11th Earl of Shrewsbury, 11th Earl of Waterford (1623–16 March 1667/1668).
http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1690-1715/member/brydges-(bridges)-george-1678-1751

Note the similarity (and irony) between his costume and that of Charles Talbot, 1st Duke of Shrewsbury by Sir Godfrey Kneller.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/charles-talbot-1st-duke-of-shrewsbury

Is Thomas Hudson (1701-1799) a candidate for the artist?


Osmund Bullock,

Richard, the particular problem of the last few days has, I think, been a separate one-off issue - indeed the site was actually inaccessible for a day or two, though no-one at the PCF has thought fit to mention this.

However, as you and many of us have experienced, there is a more general problem here with losing posts, often after hours of effort - and this has happened ever since the site was launched. But I think I have finally found a way to beat it. The first trick is to log in (at the top) *before* you try and submit the comment - you can usually get away with a short one written quite quickly just by signing in at the bottom as you submit, but it doesn't seem to like longer ones. But even that does not work when the page has been open for a long while after signing in at the top - as often happens when you write a complex post on and off over an hour or two, say, while researching in other tabs. It then freezes while allegedly in the process of sending, and when in exasperation you refresh the page it's gone for ever.

What I now do for ALL posts is to write the whole thing on word-pad and only copy it to the comment box when it's finished and ready for submission. I refresh the page, paste it into the comment box, and click the 'submit' button straight away. You can do the same thing using the comment box instead of a separate word-pad, but you *must* right-click>copy your finished post before you try and send it - if it then freezes, refresh the page, paste the comment back into the (now blank) box, and submit it again.

It would be nice if this annoying gremlin wasn't there in the first place, of course - I doubt you're the only person who's been put off contributing.

R. Stephens,

Dear Osmund,
Thank you for those tips, I must admit I had not seen the sign in button at the top, and have often suffered the same problems as you, when attempting to sign in only after posting a comment. I do this mainly on my ipad, where cutting and pasting is a bit of a pain.

Beare is such an intriguing artist -a child prodigy, he died when still in his 20s, having painted few portraits, but of exceptional quality - that there is a very natural desire to want to attribute more works to him.

Colonel Brydges is, I think, seated at a desk of some sort, for there is a chair back immediately behind him. Hudson often did pictures of that type. He is a much better painter than he's usually credited for - one of those mid-18th century, pre-RA figures ripe for re-evaluation.

Patty Macsisak,

I came across this painting which is described as 'Captain George Brydges Rodney, RN' by George Beare (c.1725-1749), painted c. 1744. George Brydges Rodney (1718-1792) later Admiral George Brydges Rodney was promoted in Lt. in 1739, captain in 1742 and would have been 26 years old in 1744, so either he is not the sitter or the painting was executed between 1732 when he joined the R.N. and 1739 when he was promoted to Lt.

George Brydges Rodney was a cousin to George Brydges (1678-1751) and benefited from his estate.

http://www.artnet.com/artists/george-beare/portrait-of-captain-george-brydges-rodney-rn-xFz80jxhTTJpSpe2YoxMKA2

http://www.heritage.nf.ca/articles/politics/naval-george-rodney.php

Osmund Bullock,

Indeed, Patty: the George Brydges Rodney portrait is one of several circumstantial reasons I believe Col. Brydges' portrait may perhaps be by George Beare.

The 1992 auction catalogue entry for the work ( http://artsalesindex.artinfo.com/asi/lots/1942693 ) seems unequivocal about the sitter's identity (unlike the artnet entry), and also makes clear the 1744 date is exact - it is apparently signed and dated by Beare. I don't understand your issue with the dating: why can this not be a portrait of a *25 or 26-year old Captain, as Rodney would have been in 1744? (*It isn't clear if his Feb 1718 baptism date is 'old-style' or new.) Bear in mind that at this date there was no such thing as a Royal Navy uniform. Actually I do think there is a serious discussion to be had about the sitter's physiognomy and hair/eye colour, which seem not very like those of Rodney in later portraits; but I can't see a problem with the date or rank. Moreover 1744 would be a logical date for his portrait, as it was one of the first opportunities he'd had to sit after having his highly-important promotion to post-captain confirmed in March 1743. He relinquished command of his next ship, HMS Sheerness, in early August 1744, and his subsequent commission, the brand-new Ludlow Castle, was not completed at Deptford until October - giving him two months probably based in or near London before setting off with her on North Sea work until the end of 1745.

Now, if the portrait is of Captain Rodney, the connection to George Brydges is even stronger than you suggest: Brydges was not only Rodney's cousin, he was his godfather and guardian, and Rodney seems to have lived with him at Avington.

There are substantial connections for George Brydges with other known Beare sitters and patrons, too, but I'll deal with them in another post - as well as discussing the artistic merits of a Beare versus a Hudson attribution.

R. Stephens,

Here's an engraving after Hudson showing much the same kind of portrait.

http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portraitLarge/mw36132/Martin-Folkes?LinkID=mp07144&search=sas&sText=Thomas+hudson&wPage=3&role=art&rNo=69

I don't mean to pre-judge the connections between Colonel Brydges of Avington and some of George Beare's sitters that Osmund has established, but they would surely not he hard to make, given the proximity of Salisbury and Winchester, and the fact that Beare's promoter, Viscount Lymington, was a longstanding county MP for Hampshire who must have known Brydges well.

Patty Macsisak,

Thank you for your comments, Mr. Bullock, but if the portrait of George Brydges Rodney is of a 26 year old man with 12 years R.N. experience under his belt, I will gladly eat (one of ) my hats. Best, PM

Patty Macsisak,

Mr. Stephens, the abstract drapery treatment in other Hudson portraits have similarities to the George Brydges portrait. Per Wikipedia, "He had many assistants, and employed the specialist drapery painter Joseph van Aken.[1] Joshua Reynolds, Joseph Wright and the drapery painter Peter Toms [3] were his students."

http://www.wikigallery.org/wiki/painting_298437/Thomas-Hudson/Portrait-of-George-Frederick-Handel

http://www.gogmsite.net/reign-of-louis-xv/lady-said-to-be-anna-grenvi.html

R. Stephens,

I must admit the 1744 Beare portrait looks like it's of a younger man, even a 'youth'. There is a very good catalogue of Beare's work by Nigel Surry, who curated the only exhibition of his pictures at Pallant House, in the 70s, but I cannot track it down on my bookshelf at the moment. Ellen G Miles, who did her phd on Hudson, also in the 70s, would be a better person to contact, given that this isn't a Beare; but I have forgotten where she works, something like the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. You could also try Jacob Simon, who collaborated with her on the Hudson exhibition at Kenwood in 1979. Jacob was chief curator at the NPG and they would surely pass on a message.

Patty Macsisak,

Mr. Bullock, I do agree with your statement "Actually I do think there is a serious discussion to be had about the sitter's physiognomy and hair/eye colour, which seem not very like those of Rodney in later portraits...." In fact, I was struck by the similarity with the George Brydges portrait under discussion.

Can you (or others?) speak to the use of 'Colonel George Brydges' in the title of this painting? I re-read short biographies of the sitter and find no reference to military service.

http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1715-1754/member/brydges-george-1679-1751

http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1690-1715/member/brydges-(bridges)-george-1678-1751

Martin Hopkinson,

Jacob Simon is now editor of the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes. Ellen D' Oench sadly died in 2009. Nigel Surry might stil be alive - his excellent Chichester catalogue was in 1989. A book by him on Portsmouth was published in 2008

Patty Macsisak,

In lieu of the mentioned resources, you are welcome to access a pinterest page I created for my own George Beare education. Still searching for better photographs and the location of many works.

https://www.pinterest.com/redriverqueen/george-beare-c-1725-1749/

Unfortunately, pinterest.com organization is on a LIFO basis, rather any another order one would like (e.g., date of execution). The following link provides thumbnails of his known paintings in date of execution order, among other things:

http://www.jac314159.webspace.virginmedia.com/SCS/081_082_099.html

Osmund Bullock,

I take your (eating hat) point, PM, based on the image you linked us to!

However, I found yesterday a slightly better image (attached) of the Beare/'Capt George Brydges Rodney' portrait (though weirdly I can no longer find its source), and this perhaps makes the matter slightly less clear-cut. I suspect that what the sitter's typically (for Beale) inelegant hand is pointing at is a naval action, though the portrait seems to have been cut down (now 35 x 27 in.), and all we can see is a bit of sea and smoke. If I'm right, this suggests that whoever it is had already been sufficiently involved in naval warfare to want to record it for posterity: would a 'youth' have done this, I wonder?

The first edition of the DNB clarifies the date of Rodney's christening at St Giles-in-the-Fields: it was indeed in February 1718/19 (i.e. 1719 by post-1752 reckoning), which would make him 25 in 1744. And it is stated in several places that he was exceptionally young for a captain, one of the youngest in the Navy. So perhaps he is not entirely out of the question. The only other clue is the sitter's curious (for the period) black stock, which I would guess is a sign of mourning: the young Rodney did lose his elder brother, mother and father in the course of 18 months - but that was in 1736-7, and I can see no other obvious candidates in the 1740s.

You're absolutely right about "Colonel" George Brydges. I can find absolutely no evidence that he was ever in the military, let alone a colonel (though his father was an army captain for a while). He is consistently referred to as "George Bridges Esq(uire)" almost everywhere, even in his own will, and a long search has produced only one context in which he is ever called 'Colonel', and that is with respect to this very portrait, which used to hang in the old assembly hall, fitted out with the £800 bequest he made to the City of Winchester for the "repair, adornment and improving" of the corporation's buildings. His will does not, alas, mention the painting.

This bequest and the portrait are referred to in a number of topographical books of the early C19th, the earliest of which I've found is John Milner's 'History, civil and ecclesiastical, & survey of the antiquities of Winchester', first published in 1801. In a note to his dedication of the first edition, dated April 1798, the author refers to 'George Bridges, esq':
https://archive.org/stream/historycivileccl01miln_0#page/n8/mode/1up

He does so also in the first two of three mentions of him in the main text (I can only find the 1809 2nd edn); but in the third appears "Colonel Bridges", and this information has been repeated in other works ever since:
https://archive.org/stream/historycivilecc02miln#page/192/mode/2up
https://archive.org/stream/historycivilecc02miln#page/207/mode/1up

I think the 'Colonel' is probably a long-standing error, and suggest that it would be safer to amend the title to 'George Brydges of Avington', with or without an 'esquire' according to taste.

R. Stephens,

Jacob Simon edits the Walpole Society, not the Warburg journal. But he is best contacted at the NPG where he has a research post. Ellen D Miles I have corresponded with since 2009, Ellen D'Oench I never heard of. Nigel Surry is definitely alive and well as we corresponded about Beare only a couple of months ago.

I'd suggest that the admin of this group close this discussion as the question has been answered in the negative.

Martin Hopkinson,

Too many senior moments on my part, Richard! I agree that my question as to an attribution to Beare was possible was misguided, but the administrator of this group should surely also suggest that the attribution should be changed to Hudson as Richard suggests

The late Ellen D'Oench was a museum curator and expert in 18C British art. Her book on Arthur Devis and the conversation piece was published by Yale in 1980. She also wrote a lot on 18C British prints.
Ellen G. Miles is at the National Portrait Gallery (part of the Smithsonian) in Washington DC. As an expert on Hudson, she might have some comments and we will endeavour to get in touch with her. I think we need more on the question of a Hudson attribution before changing it on Your Paintings.

Osmund Bullock,

I don't know where Sotheby's found the mysterious 1708 date, but the discovery of the July 1738 reference to Beare aged 13 - and thus a birth date of 1724-5 - seems to be a recent discovery. It is found in the current DNB entry for him (by Nigel Surry) dated Jan 2013 (i.e. after the auction date), but is not in the previous one dated May 2009. There are even more recent discoveries along the same lines - well, I discovered them yesterday, though I doubt I'm the first - that describe an engraved portrait by him inscribed "Geo. Beare Fecit. Aetatis Suae 14. A.D. 1738". Which would seem to pin his year of birth down to 1724.

R. Stephens,

I found the 1738 reference to Beare's age, then contacted Nigel who updated his DNB entry. Knowing Beare wasn't some mature provincial painter, but a very young man who doubtless would have graduated to London had he lived, and could have been the equal of Ramsay and Reynolds, put his few survining paintings into a different light. I also found a reference to Beare's house & Nigel got a blue plaque put up at the site in Salisbury.

Patty Macsisak,

An auction record for the portrait of George Brydges Rodney (1718-1792)...http://www.invaluable.com/auction-lot/george-beare-active-1741-1747-127-c-gei4r7vbzo

Osmund Bullock,

Well, Beare having been dismissed with certainty by those who know an awful lot more than me, I will spare you the connections taking him to Hampshire, and the family & political ties linking Brydges to other sitters of his!

Yes, I suppose Hudson is the obvious candidate, and there are numerous paintings of his using that sort of pose – though perhaps none with the (literally) sitter quite so unconvincingly positioned relative to his chair...and those hands are surprisingly awkward for Hudson or his assistants. Difficult to be sure at this resolution, but it looks like Jo van Aken might have been having an off-day in velvet depiction, too. But the face is very good – indeed rather more interesting, structured and characterful than some of those pot-boiler Hudsons with bland, pudgy, self-satisfied faces and rose-bud lips (but elegant hands and fine drapery). Hudson could and did rise much higher at times, but to my eye there’s a lot of less than inspiring stuff, too.

If poses were all, I would point you in the direction of this engraving of 1740 after Isaac Whood:
http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portraitLarge/mw38378/John-Rudge?LinkID=mp08592&role=art&rNo=10

Almost every element of the main composition is identical, right down to the position of the similarly clumsy hands, one bearing an identical-looking letter in an identical position; even the chair back is very close in design. I am tempted to suggest Whood as a possibility for our artist; but if Faber’s mezzotint rendition is accurate, Whood at least managed to make it look as if John Rudge was sitting on the chair properly, instead of perching on the side with one buttock like George Brydges. Poses, in any case, were widely copied, and there may have been an earlier (and better) Hudson or Highmore or Vanderbank from which the arrangement derives.

I, for one, would very much like to know what is written (as something clearly is) on that letter, as well as getting a closer look at things like the velvet, not to mention his face. Can I make a request for a higher-res image?

R. Stephens,

We should definitely consider Isaac Whood, given the engraving that Osmund has shared, what an interesting find. Jonny Yarker has studied Whood quite recently for his phd and I will ask him about it.

One thing that is a bit odd, is that Faber's mezzotint isn't the reverse of the Brydges portrait. Or to put it another way, that Faber seems to made his plate from a portrait of Rudge that is identical in pose to the Bridges portrait, but in mirror-image.

If Whood had himself posed his portrait from an engraving, that could explain things. Let's say a painter (be it Hudson or whoever) made a portrait of someone in this pose, with the sitter facing left. It was engraved, and in the engraving the sitter is shown facing right (because the print is the reverse of the plate). Whood copies the engraving, so his sitter is also facing right. Fisher makes an engraving after Whood's painting, thus reversing the pose again so that the sitter is again facing left.

Jade King,

This discussion has now been correctly linked to the 'Portraits: British 18th C' group.

I will email Winchester City Council’s Topographical Art Collection about the high resolution image.

Jade King,

Winchester City Council’s Topographical Art Collection give permission for a high resolution image to be hosted here. Please see attached.

1 attachment
Osmund Bullock,

Unfortunately not *that* high, but still useful, thank you.

It helps a tiny bit with the letter, but not a lot. The last word could be 'House', in which case it may be his name and address - indeed, it could be the source of the 'Colonel' title, though I can't make that (or 'Avington') out. Another possibility is that the last three words are 'George Bridges Esqre'. But what is even more interesting is an apparent inscription (in a more printed script) on the rail or frame or whatever it is immediately behind the letter. If anyone at Winchester is visiting it (or has a true high-res on file), perhaps they could check both of these for us?

Inasmuch as it helps an artistic assessment, I'd say this image confirms the poor quality of the hands and the mediocre depiction of the velvet: I am still leaning away from Hudson.

A tweaked close-up of the area attached.

Jade King,

(Thanks Osmund. For clarification, I am afraid this is the largest we hold at the PCF.)

Osmund Bullock,

Thanks all round for speedy responses: I look forward to seeing what you can manage, Winchester. OB

Andrea Kollmann,

Cassandra Brydges, Duchess of Chandos and cousin of George Brydges mentions a portrait of him in a letter written in 1727 to Brydges wife.
She calls it 'the best I ever saw of Richardson's painting ...'.

Rosemary O'Day, the author of 'Cassandra Brydges, Duchess of Chandos, 1670-1735: Life and Letters', identifies the artist as Jonathan Richardson and writes that the portrait mentioned in the letter could be the one in the Guildhall at Winchester. [1]
She also cites two sources for this attribution,
- the Connoisseur, xx, p.159 and
- C. H. Collins Baker, Muriel I. Baker: The Life and Circumstances of James Brydges, First Duke of Chandos, Patron of the Liberal Arts., Clarendon Press, Oxford 1949.

I can not access these two sources, but maybe one of you can?

[1] see page 215: https://books.google.at/books?id=WyiqglkpIU8C&pg=PA63&hl=de&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=2#v=onepage&q&f;=false

Patty Macsisak,

Well done, Ms. Kollman...I may need to diagram her sentence, but does she necessarily imply that both paintings are by Richardson? "Very occasionally we are treated to Cassandra’s opinions of portraits she has been sent by relatives, opinions that may provide clues to her attitude to her own art: 'my Lord & I had the pleasure to find at our house [in London] . . . the most agreeable present which you & my cousin Brydges have made us of your pictures. His I think by much the best I ever saw of Richardson’s painting (91) & your’s we reckon very like but
wish it had been a better likeness. Both my Lord & self are at a loss how to express our selves thankfull enough for so valuable a present, but are very sure if you could know how much we esteem them you would not think them ill bestowed.' Cassandra noted the aesthetic value of the painting but questioned its accuracy. Here, there seem to be echoes of the influence of Fellows of the Royal Society, who proclaimed the superiority of painting from life." (92)

NOTE 91. Jonathan Richardson (1665–1745) was the leading portrait painter of his day, after the deaths of Godfrey Kneller and Michael Dahl
NOTE 92. See Abraham Cowley’s famous “Prefatory Verses” to Sprat’s History of the Royal Society: “He before his sight must place / The natural and living face / The real object must command / Each judgement of his eye, and motion of his hand.”

Ref via Google eBooks
O’Day, Rosemary (2008). Family Galleries: Women and Art in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries. Huntington Library Quarterly, 71(2), p. 340.

Patty Macsisak,

Curiouser and curiouser! I thought I had made progress on identifying all of George Beare's known work (https://www.pinterest.com/redriverqueen/george-beare-c-1725-1749/), but then I found five pages of auction records (http://artsalesindex.artinfo.com), the majority of which are not easy to correlate to known works. One of the auction records was for a painting of an admiral (http://artsalesindex.artinfo.com/asi/lots/1272819), but unfortunately no photograph was provided. I have not found any candidate for this painting.

Osmund Bullock,

I can't say that our one shouts 'Richardson' at me, though I know little of him and his work, especially in later years. But Hudson (amongst others) was, of course, his pupil, and many speak of an overlap in their styles – moreover a date of 1726 or 27 (when Brydges was just under 50) probably makes more sense age-wise for the robust-looking man in our portrait than the mid/late-1740s, when he was close to 70, and heading for the "paralytic" condition in which he died aged 72. On reflection I think the idea has legs - well done, Andrea (once again!). But we need to hear from someone who knows their Richardson.

PM, I don't think Admiral-to-be G B Rodney comes into this – the letter is from George Brydges's distant cousin (by marriage), the Duchess of Chandos, and is addressed to George's wife. The two portraits referred to are of George and his wife, sent to the Duke and Duchess as a present. George's is definitely identified as being by Richardson, and by inference his wife's probably also. In any event, the portrait of Rodney that you link us to is categorically not by Richardson - it (or its original) dates from at least 20 years after he stopped painting, and is of a completely different style.

Samantha Howard, whose doctoral thesis you link us to, was I think unaware of how young Beare was when he was painting in the 1740s. Her (and others') supposition about a London training is really only based on stylistic grounds, there is no evidence. I suppose it's just possible that he'd been at the Academy or associated with its members when he was in his teens – he was back in the West Country (if he'd ever been away) and actively painting portraits before he was 20. But would not such a youthful prodigy have drawn some attention in London, and thence entered recorded history?

Yes, I linked to that artsalesindex site a few days ago. Many of those listed (including the admiral) are only "attributed to"/"circle of"/"style of", so I wouldn't get too excited – Beare has for a long time been one of those obscure names auctioneers like to stick on unattributable (and often unsaleable!) paintings to try and make them sound more interesting.

Andrea Kollmann,

Thank you Tim for the link.
I managed to come up with a google snippet of the ‘Life and … of James Brydges’, but it only cites the Connoisseur and speculates that the Winchester portrait might be the one by Richardson: ‘She (Ann Brydges) died in 1763. […] She continually corresponded with Duchess Cassandra, to whom in 1726 she gave Jonathan Richardson’s portraits of herself and her husband, George Brydges. The portrait of the latter may be that now in the Guild Hall in Winchester: see Connoisseur, xx 159.’ (p. 218)

Martin Hopkinson,

The hands are certainly weaker. Could that part of the painting by another lesser artist finishing a picture left unfinished for some unknown reason?

Tim Williams,

The only part for me that could be Richardson is the face, which displays similarities to his colouring and modelling, but unless you had seen very few Richardson's the description of it being the best one the Duchess had ever seen would be a gross exaggeration.

The size is also a bit big for him, he seemed to work these 3/4 lengths to a standard size. Gibson who used this pose (as another dozen or more did) used this size at least once, but the execution is again questionable.

If less a skilled painter than Hudson or Knapton was assisting Richardson, I think I might support a 'studio' work.

R. Stephens,

Shouldn't we try to make sense of the engraving after Isaac Whood? After all, it is the only documentary evidence that links a painter's name to this picture.

I must admit I didn't think Richardson. But if it does turn out to be him, don't be too harsh on the Duchess of Chandos. She was writing a thank you letter to her cousin's wife who'd surprised her with a gift of their portraits. Naturally, she had to be polite about them - or at least one of them. It wouldn't be a surprise if the gifts were studio copies, as that was the main reason copies were made.

Tim Williams,

Some good points Richard - I glossed over the context of the letter.

It would help if we could track down an image of the Rudge - Whood painting. Aside from the pose, a key link to both pictures is the chair with the distinctive scoll end that appears in both the mezzotint and the Brydges picture here.

Osmund Bullock,

The (or an) original portrait of John Rudge by Isaac Whood, signed and dated 1730, was sold at Christie's in Nov 1976: http://artsalesindex.artinfo.com/asi/lots/3104405

The date is helpful in drawing us back earlier than we were originally looking - 1726/7 is looking ever more plausible for Geo Brydges. It is quite likely there was no illustration in the catalogue, but there may be one in the Heinz Archive - where we should in any case have a look at the Whood & Richardson artists' files, and indeed the Brydges/Bridges sitters one. I will probably be able to get there on Thursday afternoon.

Osmund Bullock,

Ah, just noticed it says on the print it was painted in 1730 - missed that before.

Osmund Bullock,

Also just noticed that the image of the Brydges portrait in the 1908 Connoisseur article shows that there was originally a part-pillar behind him at the left-hand edge (image attached) - in exactly the same position as the one in the Rudge-Whood print. Actually I've never been able to figure out what's going on in the background of 'our' images - there's a series of weird patterns even in the higher-res on the left side, and an area down left of his head that's apparently either been over-painted using a roller, or scrubbed clean of paint altogether...one hopes the former.

Rudge and Brydges may well have been acquainted - there is no geographical link (other than London), but they had over 20 overlapping years as fellow Whig MPs.

Patty Macsisak,

Refer to the George Brydges (1678-1751) biography: " The bulk of his estate, the value of which was now estimated at £6,000 p.a., and which comprised his father’s property in Hampshire, Middlesex (in Covent Garden) and Wiltshire, with property in Ireland, together with the family’s ancestral estates in Somerset, inherited from an uncle, was entailed upon his distant cousin the 2nd Duke of Chandos (Henry Brydges†), whose father, Hon. James Brydges*, had spent many years in cultivating the connexion in expectation of just such an eventuality. A portion, however, was reserved for another cousin, the naval captain George Brydges Rodney†, whom Brydges had helped to bring up and who was to go on to win fame as an admiral and in consequence a peerage as Lord Rodney.”

As noted, George Brydges (1678-1721) married Ann Woolfe (d. 1770), daughter of Sir Joseph Woolfe in 1712.

http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/volume/1690-1715/member/brydges-(bridges)-george-1678-1751)

The letter from Cassandra Brydges, Duchess of Chandos is documented as follows: "To Cousin Brydges of Aventon c. October 1726 - October 1727 Dear cousin...." Unfortunately, the notes regarding this particular letter were not accessible.

Ref. via Google eBooks
Cassandra Brydges, Duchess of Chandos, 1670-1735: Life and Letters
Rosemary O'Day
Boydell Press, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 442 pages
Letter 238 Page 214 (See also 179, 399)

I would have liked to read each of the cited 14 letters (1724 to 1726 (7 letters), 1729-1733 (7 letters) to Ann (Woolfe) Brydges, but the snippet views do not allow. A looming legal case and related loan from the Duke of Chandos to George Brydges (1678-1751) may well have been a factor behind the gift.

Ref. via Google eBooks
Juridical arguments and collections, Volume 1, Francis Hargrave, Printed for G. G. and J. Robinson, 1797

R. Stephens,

Fantastic if you can get hold of an image of Whood's painting. I took the weird shapes in the left of the image to be marks left by a cleaner. I think areas of the painting, eg the head, have been selectively lightened by removing old dark varnish, to make the picture more attractive. It is an old restorer's trick, esp when readying paintings for sale. The wig also lacks definition, it's as if quite a bit of the paint is no longer there.

Osmund Bullock,

Well, I did find a B&W photo of Whood's portrait of John Rudge in the Heinz (image attached 1) - it went through Christie's again the following year (1977). Size is given as slightly wider than on the Blouin listing, 49 x 39½ in - a pretty standard 'half-length', and significantly smaller than our unusually-sized George Brydges (65 x 45¼ in). Vertue noted in the 1730s that Richardson had started using a slightly larger half-length format (53 x 41½ in) - still nowhere near ours, but a quick check through his work on Your Paintings suggests he used many different canvas sizes. I went through the whole Whood file at the Heinz - there was nothing else of great interest to us - but did not have time to look at the Richardson box.

Getting back to Isaac Whood's Rudge, what is extremely interesting is that as well as confirming the virtually identical nature of the pose and details, and the background pillar, we can now see that in his mezzotint Faber did actually "correct" the unconvincing nature of Rudge's position on the chair: in the original portrait Whood puts him too far on its front (to us) edge - exactly what our unknown artist did with Brydges, and hardly a mistake Richardson would have made (?or permitted in his studio). Faber also lowered the chair back to keep the sitter's head clear of clutter, and added some more folds and creases to the velvet. The chair back is similar or perhaps identical to that in ours, though I'm unsure if the top end scroll is there in ours or not.

The Heinz record for the Rudge portrait states that the sitter's name is inscribed on the letter he holds, and repeats that the work is signed and dated 1730 - but does not specify the form or position of the signature. However, I think I *can* just see what may be it on the side of the silver inkstand on the desk behind the letter - in exactly the same position as I think I can see something written on the Brydges portrait. On closer inspection, in both portraits I believe I can make out something like a capital letter 'W', though nothing else is clear - see attached images 2 & 3. The inkstand is no longer identifiable as such in our Winchester portrait, though I suspect that's the result of later over-painting (like the disappearance of the pillar since the 1908 Connoisseur article). I would make a substantial wager that the sitter's name is (or was) also on the letter in ours.

One final point of interest that gives us a geographical link. This article extract gives good evidence that Whood was working in Winchester in the early 1730s: http://books-journals.vlex.co.uk/vid/of-s-at-college-one-signed-and-isaac-507483710

R. Stephens,

This is a great help, and surely Whood must be considered as the prime candidate now. I couldn't see in the article any evidence that Whood was the painter of those Wyckhamists from the early 1730s, though I didn't sign up to gain full access to it, so perhaps it appeared later on. In any case it doesn't matter as the attributionof Brydges's portrait to Whood doesn't hinge on him having painted It in Winchester, though he may have done so. I wonder to what extent the parliamentary terms co-incided with the school's terms in the 1730s, as I'd guess Whood wouldn't have left town while parliament was sitting.

Patty Macsisak,

Does anyone have access to this catalogue? Was the painting above included?

A catalogue of the genuine collection of pictures of His Grace James Duke of Chandos, lately deceas'd: consisting of great variety of valuable pictures ... which will be sold by auction, by Mr. Cock ... (on Wednesday May 6, 1747, and the two following days.) ...
Author: Cock, Mr
Publisher: [London], [1747]

Osmund Bullock,

PM, I had wondered whether to try and track down the Cannons sale catalogue myself. However, George Brydges's 1749 will makes clear that legal arrangements - to which James, the first Duke, was party - had been in place since 1728 to leave (after his death without issue, subject to his widow's life interest) the bulk of his large estates to James "and his heirs forever...for the support of the honours and family of the said James, Duke of Chandos" - which arrangements were ratified and confirmed in the name of Henry, the 2nd Duke in George's will. Under the circumstances I rather doubt that even the 'half-witted coxcomb' Henry would have thought it wise to dispose of his kinsman's portrait, received by his parents as a gift, in a public sale during his munificent benefactor's lifetime! Indeed, had George died a few years earlier than 1751, the 2nd Duke might been able to stave off his financial problems and avoid the emptying and demolition of Cannons altogether.

It is of course uncertain whether or not the Winchester portrait is the one given to the first Duke James and his Duchess Cassandra in 1727. It seems more likely to me that George had a duplicate painted, and this remained at Avington until his death, when it would have been the natural one to end up at Winchester along with his bequest. Normally one would keep the original and give the copy away; but if you wish to give a present to one of the richest and most powerful art connoisseurs in the country, I can imagine this being reversed. This gives us the possibility that Cassandra recorded things accurately - theirs was indeed a fine, original Richardson. And who better to paint the copy than Richardson's follower Whood, a well-known copyist? We may still find his signature, as he is known to have signed and dated his copies. The only slight flaw in this hypothesis is the clumsiness of our sitter's position vis-à-vis his chair - surprising if it is a copy of a more-skilled work.

In this scenario, if the original portrait stayed with the Chandos family, and thence descended to the Dukes of Buckingham, perhaps we should check the great Stowe sale of 1848? By then, though, one suspects that its identity would have been lost. EDIT: Scotch that idea - I've checked the Stowe catalogue, and there don't seem to have been *any* Brydges/Chandos portraits.

R. Stephens,

Richardson's portrait wasn't included in the 1747 sale catalogue (which is published on http://artworld.york.ac.uk). There may or may not be a relationship between the portrait in the letter and the one we are discussing. Someone like Brydges would have sat to quite a few painters over the years.

Osmund Bullock,

That's an excellent image, Winchester, thank you. Like you I am as yet unable to make sense of what is written there: it's possible a restorer strengthened it at some stage, but misunderstood what was there before. The red seal at the top suggests it is a letter, and does (or once did) bear a name. One would expect it to read 'George Brydges Esquire', and I can just about imagine that being there before it was over-written.

Though it looks as if it may be too dirty to make out anything, might it be possible to repeat the exercise for a longer stretch (i.e. going further left) of the horizontal band behind the letter? Even in this image it does now appear to be the side of the same inkstand seen in the Rudge portrait (and the possible position of Whood's signature).

Patty Macsisak,

Cannot reconcile the first word to Jonathon. Could the 2nd word start with Ric.... and last word be Fecit?

I've been in touch with Ellen Miles, who has published extensively on Hudson. Her thoughts are: "the pose and the face do resemble some of Hudson's early portraits, around 1740" but she adds that it is impossible to make an attribution based on the appearance of the painting seen via digital image. Further, to secure any attribution to Hudson, one would need to look closely at the sitter's life to see if he would have been in the same circles as Hudson when the portrait was likely to have been painted.

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