Archive for November 29th, 2013

November 29, 2013

Family Portrait

This picture came up for sale at Christies in London in 2011, and is described as “Family portrait, small three-quarter-length, in black, red and white dress”. It has scant provenance, and in fact is inscribed on the frame with a story of how it turned up: ‘This oil painting washed ashore at Rottingdean with other wreckage from the Australian ship “Simla”,: Run down by the ship City of Lucknow, Feb 25th 1884’. It’s a lovely picture of a typical family from the seventeenth century and has the look of those Dutch master paintings of ordinary folk that hardly ever turn up in portraits by English artists

The people in the picture are dressed in clothes that place the time of the picture in the 1640s or thereabouts, and seem to be as described, a family group. They mostly look at us from the picture, though the three figures on the right look across the picture at the eldest member of the family.  He is presumably the grandfather of the family and is dressed in a gown and ruff collar with a lace edged day cap. The husband and wife (I imagine) are in their best blacks. The wife with a neat plain layered kerchief and a black hood over hers (perhaps this refers to a lost child), whilst the man of the house is in a plain black doublet and a neat falling band. If you look closely though, he has left the lower buttons unfastened so you can see his shirt. The three children are all dressed in petticoats and aprons and there is no way to tell if they are boys or girls from what they are wearing. The seventh figure  is partly hidden by an open door and seems to be wearing a red waistcoat over petticoat skirts and an apron and kerchief.

Family portrait, small three-quarter-length, in black, red and white dress

November 29, 2013

Portrait of a Royalist Cavalry Officer

From the Bridgeman Art Library (hence the watermark). I can see no reason why this has been labelled as Royalist or cavalry, but there you are. It is undated, though to my eye, the clothes and the style of the portrait set it firmly in the Civil War period. The picture is in private hands somewhere and is  © Lawrence Steigrad Fine Arts, New York.

The officer is staring out of the picture quite nonchalantly and is standing defiantly foursquare in his buff coat and breeches. He looks like he’d rather be off out than stay indoors having his portrait painted.

The perfectly white sleeves of his doublet contrast with the black of his breeches and are brocaded (or perhaps embroidered) in an intricate pattern whilst his buff leather coat is also extravagantly laced at the front. His falling band is edged in a wide band of lace, though his cuffs don’t actually match, being ruffled but not edged with lace. Note also the line of buttons down the side of his breeches and around the bottom edge too. His boots are lined with red leather and the boothose edged with lace, though again not the same pattern as his band, which is either sloppy dressing or indicates that as a soldier he didn’t care too much! He is wearing spurs to indicate that he is off to ride a horse, though not necessarily in a cavalry regiment. His baldric and sword seem to be quite plain and businesslike which suggests that they have seen action.

 

Portrait of a Royalist Cavalry Officer, c.1640 (oil on copper), English School, (17th century) : Private Collection

November 29, 2013

Portrait of an Unknown Officer

This painting came up for auction in 2008 at Gorringes Auction House in Lewes and has been attributed to John Souch. It certainly looks like the style of the portrait painter from Chester and the clothes worn by the officer are spot on for the period. He is wearing a thick leather buff coat laced together down the front with silk satin sleeves seemingly laced in to the coat rather than attached to an underlying doublet. His falling band and cuffs are neat with matching lace edges and his sword hangs from a nicely embroidered baldrick. The magnificent plume on the helmet beside him nicely matches the colours of his lacings and the edges of his baldrick.

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