Completed Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 18th C, Scotland: Artists and Subjects 46 Who painted Anne Clive, the Honourable Mrs George Sempill? Could we add the sitter’s dates?

Topic: Subject or sitter

I suggest that the title could be updated to ‘Anne Clive (1740–between 1766 and 1775), the Honourable Mrs. George Sempill’.

Ref. Date of birth and marriage to George Sempill. See Murshidabad/ biographies/ Robert Clive

Ref. Date of George Sempill's 3rd marriage. See Google Books: George D. Crawford, ‘Archæological and historical collections relating to the county of Renfrew ... Parish of Lochwinnoch’ (Paisley: Alexander Gardner, 1885), Vol. 1, p. 22. Original from University of Minnesota. Digitised 8 July 2010. (Ed: in 2020 snippet view only)

Art UK: Could we try to identify the artist? The National Trust record dates this portrait to 1766–1799, i.e. from the date of their marriage until his death. The dress seems right for a marriage portrait of 1766, when Anne was 26.

Patty Macsisak, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The sitter’s name was adjusted from ‘Anne’ To ‘Ann’ and her vital dates were added to the title. The painting date was amended from ’18th C’ to c.1755–1765. The attribution remains ‘British (English) School’.

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.


Jacinto Regalado,

The problem is she looks like she could be in her forties.

Louis Musgrove,

She appears to possibly be the sister of Robert Clive-- 1st Baron Clive. Her husband Sempill died in 1779.
Here is genealogy if it's the correct person . clive sempill&f=false

Louis Musgrove,

BTW. The dress seems unusual for an English dress- more of a European look to it perhaps?? And it looks to have a lot of work in it- so quite expensive?

Louis, the link above, 'Open on collection website', takes you to the National Trust's object record, where it is stated that the sitter was the sister of Clive of India.

Louis Musgrove,

Marion- Ah yes--- mind you above it says Col George Sempill died in 1799-- but I think it was 1779-- and also he married Jane Butterworth in 1775 which is about Nine years after he married Anne in 1766 , so Anne presumably died somewhen between- and also the possibly interesting thing from the genealogy is that George and Anne appear to be cousins.
Robert Clive was born in 1725 when his father was 32- so perhaps Anne born 1727 ish- so she might have been 39 at the time of her marriage to Sempill-- which would fit in with Jacintos guestimate of a Woman of 40 ish.
As Robert Clive was in India in 1766- Just a guess -was his sister with him there- did she marry Col George there- and perhaps the painting was done out in India-- as I noticed the Dress isn't quite like English dresses of the time--- Just a big guess :-) .

Osmund Bullock,

Louis, Ann(e) Clive was born in 1740, or at least baptized that year on 5th May at St Bartholomew Exchange, London – there’s a fuller genealogy linked in Patty’s intro. Patty must also be aware that Ann died at some point between her marriage to George Sempill in Dec ‘1766’ (actually it was 1764, as I’ll explain later today) and George’s subsequent (third) marriage to the widowed Jane Jodrell in June 1775 – to have those dates included in the title is the very purpose of her starting the discussion! This is a link to a full view of the ‘snippet view’ book she mentions in the intro:

There’s nothing unusual or ‘foreign’ about the dress for the period, though you’re right that it would have been expensive. She and George Sempill were in fact married at Moreton Say in Shropshire; and they were indeed first cousins – their mothers were sisters.

Just another 'BTW' that it was Clive himself who married in India (Madras, 1753) to Margaret Maskelyne, sister of the (subsequent) 5th Astronomer Royal, 1765-1811, Nevil Maskelyne. She herself spent much time living near him at Greenwich while Clive was later in India: a very intelligent woman of whom there are good portraits, esp.that by Dance. It was an age with often interesting lateral connections.

Louis Musgrove,

Osmund-- I assumed that as Patty was asking about the sitters dates there was some possible doubt about the proffered genealogy. Perhaps people were Christened as a baby and then Baptised and received into the Church when old enough to understand things- perhaps in mid teens. And perhaps Anne's origins are not so clear????- nothing is as complicated as the intrigues in a family.
I notice that DeBretts 1849 gives Annes marriage date as 1764- funny how different books give different names and dates :-)
And I agree with Jacinto that the sitter looks older than 24.
But this painting does draw one in.I think it is rather nice :-) It looks in poor condition- any information on how it got this way?? I suppose this makes it hard to work out who painted it. Nobody has had a guess yet. But as I like to keep on looking at it I guess it was someone rather good.

Kieran Owens,

Debrett's Peerage records that Anne Clive was born on the 17th April 1740:

The Scots Magazine of Tuesday 1st October 1771 carried the following death notice:

"In Bengal, Mrs. Sempill, the wife of the Hon. Col. Sempill, and sister of Lord Clive."

Kieran Owens,

In Volume 3 of "The Life of Robert, Lord Clive", by John Malcolm (published in 2017), the following paragraph can be read regarding Robert Clive:

"Though only in his forty-sixth year, his friends were already fast
falling around him. He had lost two sisters while he was absent in
India. In May, 1771, he had to lament the death of his aged father, as
he had of his sister, the Honourable Mrs Sempill, before the year was done."

Kieran Owens,

If born in 1740 and died in 1771, Anne Sempill (née Clive) cannot be more that 31 years old in this portrait.

Kieran Owens,

Also, the portrait could have been painted after 1771 as a posthumous tribute to the memory of her short-lived life. One way or the other, it is likely to have been painted sometime between 1765 and 1775.

Jacinto Regalado,

I suppose if she was ill for some time before she died, she may have looked older than she was. However, is it absolutely certain that this is not some other woman?

Osmund Bullock,

Adult baptism was/is a rarity in the Church of England, Louis, and in the C18th really only happened when it had not happened in infancy. The overwhelming majority of children born to wealthy/high-status parents at this period would have been baptised / christened (the terms are synonymous in the C of E) within a few weeks of birth, unless they were not well enough or there was some particular family circumstance. Even without the Debrett’s entry (thanks, Kieran) one would normally assume that as Ann was baptised at a quite fashionable City of London church early in May 1740, she was probably born earlier the same year.

I write ‘Ann’ (without an ‘e’) as that is how it is spelled in her baptism entry, and also in that of her marriage on 1st Dec 1764 (not 1766 as given in many places, including Burke’s). See attached. In the latter she actually signs her name thus herself in the register....which is not to say that she could not have written it both ways, as many did!

Kieran Owens,

The Reverend Robert Clive was the son of Reverend Benjamin Clive and Susannah Floyer. He married Rebecca Clive, daughter of Richard Clive and Rebecca Gaskell, on 26th November 1759. Rebecca's eldest sister was Ann(e) Clive, the subject of this discussion. The Reverend was, therefore, Ann(e)'s brother-in-law.

As can be seen below, Robert held the office of Prebendary of Westminster and was also was Rector at Moreton, England. His elder brother was George Clive, who held the office of Member of Parliament (M.P.) for Bishop's Castle between 1763 and 1779.

Kentish Gazette, of Saturday 17th October 1778, carried the following notice:

"The King has been pleased to grant the place and dignity of a Prebendary of the collegiate church of St. Peter, Westminster, now void by the death of Dr. Thomas Patrick Young, unto the Reverend Robert Clive, Master of Arts."

The same paper, of Friday 17th August 1792, carried this subsequent report:

"The King has been pleased to grant to the Rev. Charles Moss, Master of Arts, the dignity of Prebendary of the the collegiate church of St. Peter, Westminster, void ny the death of the Rev. Robert Clive."

The National Archives holds his will, the probate date fro which is the 31st December 1792. In it he his described as the Archdeacon of Shropshire.

James Brown,

There might be a clue in the Testament Testamentar & Inventar of George Sempill, 2nd son to Hugh, Lord Sempill, dated 26th November, 1780. The Inventory might just mention the picture.

Also available there is birth notice for a son, George Sempill, born to John, Baron Sempill & Janet Dunlop - date 2/5/1763 Inchinnan Parish.

Both records can be viewed on Scotland's People website but a small charge is made.

Louis Musgrove,

Aha- so she died in India in 1771. Also there is a letter in the British Library. From Anne to her brother Robert. Dated 12 March 1769 at Monghyr-- (headquarters garrison for Bengal). Her husband Col George must have been stationed there. Anyway- the letter basically say that she and her husband Col George are in a difficult situation and could Robert help them to improve their position there.
I suppose that means they were short of money??????
Anyway - back to the painting-perhaps it is unfinished - perhaps it was being painted in India-I still don't think that dress looks english-- and unfinished because she died.????

I would like to thank William Thuillier for responding c/o the Antiques Trade Gazette:

'Regarding your Art Detective issue on the last page of no. 2426, I would note the following: The tight bodice does suggest a dating circa 1740-50. Could the artist be Henry Pickering (1720-1770/71)?'

Jacinto Regalado,

If the date of the picture is 1740s, it cannot be a portrait of Anne Clive, who was born in 1740.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

The dress in the portrait of Anne Clive is, in my view, from c. 1755-1762- a great example of fashionable English late rococo style, which had layered frilled cuffs, as shown, and delicate ornamentation like this. Most of that has not survived on remaining dresses in museum collections but is clear in portraits of the period. She wears a stomacher across her centre front typically trimmed with bows. By 1765, women's hair styles had started to gain height- which fixes this portrait, with its natural shaped head of hair, at about 1755-62.I love it... Please see my attachments of portraits with similar styles.

Louis Musgrove,

Yes Marcie- a possibility- might I also suggest Thomas Frye-- he painted a portrait of Kitty Clive,and by style,it seems to me two other Clive's on Art Uk ( by unknown artist) - and also this might also match his painting style??/ Possibly?.

Jacob Simon,

To my eye the portrait may be Continental. I don't think the costume is British.

Lou Taylor, Dress and Textiles,

Please see my comments and specifically my attached images on the clothes in this gorgeous portrait, which I submitted on the 12/05/2020. I have not changed my mind since then... date c 1755-1762 and I can find no specific reasons why this portrait should not be showing an example of the best of English fashionable dress of that period.

Jacob, what aspects of the dress etc in this portrait do you find to be Continental rather than English, please?

Jacob Simon,

I have never seen a British portrait of the period with numerous repeated small bows in a colour contrasting with the bodice and, unusually, decorating the sleeve cuffs. Further the neck piece, the head piece and the spray between the bodice and the neck piece seem to be without close comparison in British portraiture. Further stylistically the portrait does not fit comfortably with my experience of British portraiture of the period. It is also worth noting the small size as atypical in British portraiture of the period

Jacob Simon,

The frame, illustrated on the NT website (link at right at start of discussion) appears to have been made for the picture. But it does not appear to be a British frame of the date of the picture. I suggest that it is either continental or a later British revival pattern frame.

S. Elin Jones,

This Painting wasn’t in the possession of the 4th Earl, or the collection at Powis Castle before the castle and contents were bequeathed to the National Trust in 1952.

Would it be possible to ask the National Trust if they could clarify who the previous owner of the portrait was, (or where it came from) before it was transferred to the National Trust in lieu of tax in 1963, please?
Thanks very much

Jacinto Regalado,

The lady does not bear any remarkable resemblance to Clive of India , so it seems relevant to ascertain the basis for her identification as his sister.

Mark Wilson,

Elin I think this has always been at Powis Castle. Although the Castle and Gardens went to the National Trust in 1952, the contents seem to have not been included. Most of the pictures on ArtUK say they were “accepted by HM Treasury in lieu of tax and transferred to the National Trust, 1963”. Possibly these were used to pay off death duties on 4th Earl and ownership only transferred later or maybe kept by the family and used for a later tax bill.

About a dozen (maybe more valuable) are shown as “accepted by HM Treasury in lieu of tax, 1963; transferred to the National Trust, 1992”. So they may be a later tranche or just transferred separately. But there’s no indication that any of the pictures have ever left the Castle and as is often the way with NT properties, the current Earl and his family have continued to live there throughout, so moving stuff elsewhere seems unlikely.

Marcie Doran,

Kieran, I see that you had already quoted that notice from 1771 in your comment of 16/01/2020 21:23.


I've been trying to figure out why this work remained in the Clive family.

A marginal note in the will of Anne's father, Richard Clive of Styth, seems to show that, after his death in May 1771, his will of June 28, 1766, was left unadministered until 1810. He bequeathed his estate to his wife Rebecca Clive.

Will of Richard Clive of Stych, Shropshire
PROB 11/968/250

The will of Anne's mother, Rebecca Clive of Styth, dated October 10, 1771, mentions that most of her property at Styth was bequeathed to Lord Clive but she had many exclusions including "four small pictures the property of my daughter Ann Sempill". Her codicil dated October 11, 1771, does not mention her daughter. She was likely unaware of her daughter's death when she drafted her will and codicil.

Will of Rebecca Clive, Widow of Styth, Shropshire
PROB 11/973/323

Osmund, if you get a chance, could you please check this information? Many family trees show Rebecca's year of death was 1745 but she must have passed away between October 11 and December 6, 1771.

S. Elin Jones,

Hi Mark...Am sure that the majority of the paintings at Powis Castle today came to be there in exactly the way described, but I can’t help thinking that a little bit of clarity could be useful.

It appears that The 5th Earl had to pay approx £100,000 of duty on the estate of the 4th Earl. One of the earliest paintings to leave Powis Castle under the new ‘Section 34 (1) of the Finance Act, 1956’, was ‘Pieta’ by “Rogier Van der Weyden’. It was moved to, and is still in the National Gallery.

I believe the painting was deemed to be worth £80,000 at the time. Items from the library from Powis Castle were also sold in 1956 to help pay the bill.

I’ve worked through a descriptive list of 83 portraits still in the collection of the 4th Earl, at Powis Castle before he died in 1952. Many of which (but not all) are listed on ArtUK as being at Powis Castle today. There doesn’t appear to be an obvious candidate matching the title or description for this portrait. It could certainly be an oversight, but equally so, could this portrait have come from another source?, perhaps a little later than the donation of the Castle to the National Trust in 1952?

Osmund Bullock,

"Mrs Rebecca Clive of Stych" was buried at Moreton Say, Salop, on 27th Oct 1771. Her husband Richard had been buried at the same place on 23rd May.

I may be wrong - I haven't time to examine the Will(s) till later - but I'd have thought it far more likely that she made her Will and/or the Codicil precisely *because* she had received news of her daughter's death in India. The (monthly) Scots Magazine for October would have included all births, marriages and deaths of which they'd received notice since the previous issue. I don't know what their lead time was, but there is little doubt in my mind that the family would have learned of the death well before the magazine published it on 1st October. And even in the most unlikely event that a Scottish publication was the first anyone in Britain knew of it, that's still 10 days before the Will was written.

The actual death, of course, must have taken place a long time before: sailing times from India in the C18th were months rather than weeks. And as you can see from a death notice on the same page (which lists a death in July), even a death in Scotland might take months to be reported.

Osmund Bullock,

Well, it looks like I *was* wrong about that, Marcie, and you were right: on the face of it Rebecca does appear to write as if her daughter Ann Sempill was living. You could *just about* argue that that the reference to Ann re her four pictures would still make sense if she were dead (though one would expect it to read "my late daughter ..."); but the several specific bequests to "my five daughters" clearly means they were all living (or though to be). So to be absolutely sure we'd need to know how many other daughters she had living in 1771. I'm not sure, though, how relevant and useful this line of enquiry is: neither of the Wills (Richard's and Rebecca's) mention specific identifiable pictures, so surely that's the end of that?

Marcie Doran,

Thank you for checking, Osmund. I missed that reference to Rebecca's daughters. Actually, I have found only three other daughters who would have been living in 1771: Rebecca (d. 1825), Sarah (d. 1828), and Frances (d. 1798). You’re correct – it isn’t really relevant. And, I should have written “Ann” not “Anne”.

Jacob Simon,

This somewhat convoluted discussion, dating from January 2020, concerns a small portrait at Powis Castle (National Trust), “Who painted Anne Clive, the Honourable Mrs George Sempill? Could we add the sitter’s dates?” For some reason the portrait has disappeared from the NT website.

Anne Clive’s life dates have reasonably been established as 1740-1771 (Kieran, 16/01/2020). Her Christian name was spelt “Ann” (without an ‘e’) in her baptism entry, and in that of her marriage on 1 December 1764 (Osmund, 17/01/2020).

Lou has dated the dress in the portrait to c.1755-62, when the sitter would have been between 15 and 22 years of age (12/05/2020). This is problematic because our portrait seems to depict a somewhat older woman. However, such judgement is tricky since it appears that the portrait has suffered somewhat in the past and is quite yellowed now. As it happens we have been unable to establish why the portrait is identified as Anne Clive. But let’s suppose for a moment that the portrait is a marriage portrait, hence the prominent sprig of myrtle. It would thus date to 1764, when she will have been 24 years old, or very soon afterwards. I think that this slightly later dating is possible.

There is another element which I have commented on before (06/01/2023, 09/01/2023). To my eye the portrait is not necessarily British. Could it have been painted on a Continental honeymoon? Or even in India where she died?

In answer to the discussion questions. “Who painted Anne Clive, the Honourable Mrs George Sempill?” We don’t know. “Could we add the sitter’s dates?” Yes, 1740-1771.

I propose to leave the discussion open for a further few days with a view to recommending closure thereafter.

Jacob Simon,

To conclude this discussion dating from January 2020 concerning a small portrait at Powis Castle (National Trust). There are two questions:

(1) “Who painted Anne Clive, the Honourable Mrs George Sempill?” We don’t know. But her name was spelt "Ann", without an "e" in her baptism entry, and in that of her marriage on 1 December 1764 (Osmund, 17/01/2020). So the recommendation is to make this amendment in the work title.

(2) “Could we add the sitter’s dates?” Yes, 1740-1771 (Kieran, 16/01/2020) and research by Marcie and Osmund).

Lastly the date of the work, discussed in my preceding post. The recommendation is to amend the date to circa 1755-65.

Marcie Doran,

Before this discussion closes, I would just add that the artist Charles Clive (d. 1794) was described as a "near relation of Lord Clive" when his death was announced in the 'Kentish Gazette' of Tuesday 06 January 1795.

Here (again) is the link to the portrait of Lord Clive (the brother of Ann Sempill née Clive) by Charles Clive on Art UK (31/12/2022 14:43).