Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 16th and 17th C 34 Who painted 'The Countess of Ossory' and can we confirm the sitter?

COL_GAG_1299
Topic: Artist

This picture was once attributed to Lely (from what I could find the attribution to Lely appeared in 1916 in ‘The Connoisseur Illustrated’, including a photo of the painting) whose influence is evident, but it is probably more likely to be by Willem Wissing. The identification of the sitter as Amelia of Nassau, Countess of Ossory (1635–1688), who was painted by both Lely and Wissing, may be incorrect. That lady was a famous beauty whose other portraits are more sensuous, though this might be a picture from late in her life (and Wissing's), which could perhaps explain the difference.
Below is a Wissing portrait of her, c.1683 https://bit.ly/3hCumrS

Jacinto Regalado, Entry reviewed by Art UK

34 comments

The Collection has commented: ‘We are not familiar enough with the artist to comment on the difference in style, as they are very different and we can’t quite see the same hand in both. To our eyes it doesn’t seem quite vibrant enough to be Lely either.’

Tamsyn Taylor,

This looks like Willem Wissing.
The hands and ars in particular are painted with less anatomical form than Lely.
The background and the leaves in Particular, are typical of Wissing.

Kieran Owens,

Amelia of Nassau, Countess of Ossory (1635–1688) was never the Duchess of Ormond. She married Thomas Butler (1634-1680), 6th Earl of Ossory, at the Hague on the 17th November 1659, and he died in 1680. His father was James Butler (1610 - 1688), 5th Earl of Ossory and 1st Duke of Ormond, who died eight years after his son. His wife was Elizabeth Preston (1615–1684), 1st Duchess of Ormond and 2nd Baroness Dingwall. The title of Duke of Ormond thus skipped a generation and passed to the first Duke's grandson, James Butler (1665 - 1745), 7th Earl of Ossory and 2nd Duke of Ormond, the son of the above-mentioned Thomas Butler and Amelia of Nassau.

Jacinto's second link above is actually to a 1702 mezzotint print showing Mary Butler (née Somerset) (1665 - 1733), Duchess of Ormond, the second wife of the above-mentioned James Butler, the 2nd Duke of Ormond, whom she married on the 3rd of August 1685, as engraved and published by John Smith, after the portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller:

https://bit.ly/3vfUT28

and

https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/term/BIOG143782

Jacinto Regalado,

Thank you, Kieran. My link, of course, misidentifies both the sitter and the painter, but I should have realised the dress and hair are too late for Lely and are, in fact, Queen Anne period.

It may be that Lely did not paint Amelia of Nassau, though Wissing certainly did, at least twice. My faulty link, albeit using the wrong image, was apparently referring to a print after Lely by Thomas Watson purportedly of Amelia, Countess of Ossory (and inscribed as such), even though it is really of Mary Bagot, Countess of Falmouth and Dorset (the original picture is in the Royal Collection). I can post links to both the print and the painting, but I do not want to make matters even more confusing.

Louis Musgrove,

There is a flower to the right of our sitter's head.Beneath the grime perhaps some more. Could it possibly be an Orange flower-or Oranje Blumen as they say in the Netherlands.
If so -possibly someone of the House of Orange-perhaps even Queen Mary herself?

Kieran Owens,

Would it be possible for Art UK to post a higher resolution of the building in the distance, behind the sitter's right elbow?

Jacinto Regalado,

The building is a castle with obvious crenellation, seen upon enlargement.

Kieran Owens,

If this is the Countess of Ossary, or any member of the relevant branch of the Butler family, the crenellated image could be the left hand side of the formal entrance to Kilkenny Castle, former home of the Dukes of Ormond.

1 attachment
Jacinto Regalado,

While I still favor Wissing over Lely, it may not be autograph Wissing but "studio of," circle of" or "style of" Wissing.

Kieran Owens,

The painting could be by or from the circle of Kneller's one-time student Michael Dahl (1659–1743), the artist being in the habit of including delicate sprigs of flowers in many of his portraits of female sitters. Dahl also painted James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormond.

Jacinto Regalado,

If this is the Countess of Ossory, who died in 1688, it is unlikely to be by Dahl, whose London career did not take off until the 1690s. This picture looks more like Wissing's work to me.

Kieran Owens,

If it is her is the relevant question. On what firm evidence was the attribution made to it being a portrait of the Countess of Ossory? Did Lady Wakefield present it as a family heirloom? If so, where was the connection between the Wakefields and the Butlers? Osmund, might you know?

Jacinto Regalado,

I assume Lady Wakefield was Sarah Frances Graham, the wife of Charles Wakefield (d. 1941), who was Lord Mayor of London 1915-1916 and became the 1st Viscount Wakefield in 1934. He did not come from a noble family, so this picture would not have been of one of his ancestors. I do not know anything about the background of his wife.

Jacinto Regalado,

I meant to say that the Countess of Ossory in question would presumably not have been one of his ancestors.

Kieran Owens,

I think that there is much confusion around which Countess of Ossory is which. For instance, the supposed portrait of her in the Royal Collection is credited as having been painted by William Wissing (1656-1687) in c.1683, the year in which the artist was 27 years old and Amelia of Nassau (1635–1688), Countess of Ossory, was 48 years old. The portrait, however, shows a much younger girl, perhaps one in her twenties or early thirties:

http://www.rct.uk/collection/402575/amelia-of-nassau-countess-of-ossory-d-1688

Could she be 48 in the portrait?



Jacinto Regalado,

Amelia of Nassau was known as a beauty, at least in her younger days, and perhaps she aged uncommonly well. It is also quite possible that Wissing flattered her. I have recently been wondering about the degree to which a portrait painter may flatter a sitter, in connection to a lovely portrait of one of Handel's leading prima donnas, who was notoriously ugly by contemporary accounts (to the point she was nicknamed The Pig). The portrait in question gives no hint of that.

Louis Musgrove,

If you read the blurb on the RCT Wisssing -it says it was painted in Holland when he was there with Queen Mary,and was not catalogued till Queen Anne.
I suggest all three paintings. The RCT, Jacinto's Wissing and our sitter here are all by Wissing, all of the same Lady, and I think that Lady is Queen Mary,Princess of Orange. Now I duck whilst you all dissagree :-) .

Jacinto Regalado,

Louis, I think we have to trust the Royal Collection as to what is or is not a portrait of a well-known princess/Queen. Such a determination is rather more in its field of expertise than ours.

Jacinto Regalado,

While the five-petalled white flower at upper right, already noted by Louis, might be a generic flower, it could certainly be an orange blossom, and thus used to signify the sitter's ancestry if this is Amelia of Nassau. The latter's father was the illegitimate son of Maurice, Prince of Orange, and thus she was obviously related to the House of Orange-Nassau, albeit collaterally.

Jacinto Regalado,

I suppose one could consider John Riley as the painter, but the picture still feels more like Lely by way of Wissing or circle of Wissing.

Kieran Owens,

More on Sir Charles Wakefield can be read here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Wakefield,_1st_Viscount_Wakefield

Lady Wakefield was born Sarah Frances Graham on the 27th November 1858 in Liverpool, the daughter of William Graham (1826 - 1870) and Elizabeth Sinker (1832 - 1923). She married Charles Cheers Wakefield in 1891 in West Derby, Lancashire and died, as Viscountess Wakefield of Hythe, at The White Cottage, Blackhouse Hill, Hythe, Kent, on the 17th February 1950, leaving an estate valued at £375,061/10/10, equivalent to circe £11,700,000 today.

Louis Musgrove,

Jacinto-refering to your link of RCT Queen Mary. I see many similiarities in the face to our sitter.-- though the dressing/clothes are obviously "Qeenlike"and she wears make up,I stiill think it is the same person. The RCT blurb mentions that portraits were constantly updated ,as theirs was.I think the RCT Queen Mary was the end product of a series. Just my view. Cheers.

Jacinto Regalado,

Louis, you may keep your opinion, but I rather doubt you will find much support for it. If nothing else, our picture is much too casual or informal to be of Mary. I am reminded of a carved figure of a Buddhist acolyte on Art UK listed by the the corresponding collection as a figure of Buddha, which was quite implausible based on iconography, but there you are.

Jacinto Regalado,

If the sitter is Amelia of Nassau (d. 1688), this may be too early for Murray, who was only 25 when she died and working under John Riley, whose studio he took over when Riley died in 1691.

Miles Barton,

If not Murray perhaps Wilhelm Sonmans

Jacinto Regalado,

I have become more inclined to favor John Riley or a follower over Wissing. The latter was better at painting women, and tended to make his sitters look pretty and elegantly delicate. Our picture is less flattering and more matter-of-fact, which is more the style of Riley (who was more successful with men and more prone to have male sitters). Here are some comparable portraits by or in the style of Riley:

https://bit.ly/3ygOfKH

https://bit.ly/3fjAh3c

https://bit.ly/3rLwu3p

Please support your comments with evidence or arguments.

jpg, png, pdf, doc, xls (max 6MB)
Drop your files here
Attach a file Start uploading
 

Sign in

By signing in you agree to the Terms & Conditions, which includes our use of cookies.