(Civitavecchia 1705 - 1784 Rome)
Portrait of the Hon. Augustus Townshend (1716-1745), a Captain with the East India Company
Inscribed and dated 1745, upper right
Oil on canvas, framed
Dimensions: approx. 224 x 146 cm. / 88 x 57 inches, excl. frame
Collection of the Church Commissioners, Lambeth Palace (by c.1860); Private Collection, England
Giancarlo Sestieri, Repertorio Della Pittura Romana Della Fine del Seicento e del Settecento, Umberto Allemandi & C., Turin, Vol I, p.43 & 44, Vol II, no.224, illustrated
This picture, which shows the sitter standing full-length in an elegant and lofty room, has impressive provenance, having once hung in Lambeth Palace. It is in the top order of mid-eighteenth century full-length portraits of “men of the day”. The sitter is the Hon. Augustus Townshend, second son of Charles, 2nd Viscount Townshend and his second wife, Dorothy, daughter of Robert Walpole of Houghton, Norfolk, and sister of Sir Robert Walpole, 1st Earl of Oxford. Augustus Townshend was a merchant adventurer and Captain with the East India Company. It is recorded that in 1745 Townshend commanded the ship Augusta on its voyage to the East Indies. At some point during the voyage Townshend fell ill and subsequently died in Batavia, at a tragically young age. In this portrait he is portrayed proudly demonstrating a commission from the Company, as he points to the map and papers on the table to his right.
The artist, Andrea Casali, was born in Civitavecchia near Rome in 1705 and studied in The Eternal City as a pupil of Sebastiano Conca and Francesco Trevisani. In the late 1720s and 1730s, under the patronage of Pope Benedetto XIII, Casali gained several important religious commissions in Rome, mainly church frescoes, a notable example of which is the series in the cloister of San Sisto Vecchio. The present portrait was executed during Casali’s long stay in England, a period of some 25 years, from 1741 to 1766. Once in England, Casali found a patron in William Beckford, who commissioned him to carry out the decoration of his mansion at Fonthill in Wiltshire. Towards the end of his stay in England, Casali worked alongside Robert Adam on the decoration of Syon House, owned by Hugh Percy, 1st Duke of Northumberland.
Jan Josef Horemans The Elder
Portrait of an Elegant Family in a Grand Garden
Circa 1730. Signed JHorem**s, lower right
Oil on canvas, framed
Dimensions: 69 x 81 cm (27 x 32 inches) excl. frame
Jan Josef Horemans the Elder was the leading genre painter working in Antwerp in the first half of the 18th century. Many of his works in the collections of important museums, such as the 'The Cobbler's Shop' (1712; Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum), 'The Operation' (c.1740; St. Petersburg, Hermitage) and 'Interior with a surgeon' (1722, Wellcome Library, London). Large family portraits by Horemans rarely come onto the market and are sought-after for their elegance and attention-to-detail. These elements are apparent in the present picture in the formal postures of the family, their finely-patterned, rich garments, and in the more light-hearted additions of the jumping dog in the foreground and exotic bird in the background.
Horemans was born in Antwerp in 1682 and became a pupil of the sculptor Michiel van der Voort I (1667-1737) and then of the Dutch painter Jan van Pee (c.1640-1710). He joined the Guild of St Luke in 1706-07. In 1746, together with his son Jan Josef Horemans II (his most notable pupil), he painted 'the Abbot of St Michel Visiting the Order of the Fencing Oath', which is now in the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten, Antwerp.
John Russell RA
(Guildford 1745 - 1806 Hull)
A Pair of Pastel Portraits of Charles Elliott (1752-1826) of New Bond Street, London; and his wife, Eling Venn
Pastel on paper, in matching gold-coloured frames
The second signed and dated 1789, in pencil, centre right: J Russell R A. pt / 1789
Dimensions: The first 60 by 44 cm / 23.5 x 17 inches; the second 59 cm. x 44 cm. / 23 x 17 inches
G.C. Williamson, John Russell R.A. , London, 1894, pp. 44 and 142, no. 3;
N. Barton, 'Rise of a Royal Furniture Maker', Country Life, 10 February 1966, p. 293
John Russell is renowned for his portraits in oil and especially pastel; in 1790, the year after the present pictures were made, he was appointed official Painter-in-Crayon (i.e. pastel) to King George III and the Royal family. As a result his pastel portraits were highly sought-after and the quality of his works were considered on a par with those of Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792).
The sitters here are Charles Elliott and his second wife, Eling Venn, daughter of the Reverend Henry Venn, an Anglican clergyman and one of the most important figures in the Evangelical movement in the eighteenth-century. Charles Elliott was a British cabinet-maker and importer of furniture by Royal appointment. The importing of French furniture on a large scale began in the 1780s, when the Prince of Wales (later George IV) came of age and was allowed a separate dwelling at Carlton House, which he rebuilt and refurnished in the French style he admired. Elliott was probably involved in obtaining furniture for the Prince of Wales from France, as suggested by financial documents showing the Prince receiving from Elliott a bill for £1,745 for having "furnished his said Royal Highness with various Articles of upholstery and other things".
In 1792 Elliott became a shareholder in the Sierra Leone Company, a scheme for settling freed slaves in Africa. Its supporters included the famous slavery abolitionist, William Wilberforce, and other members of “the Clapham Sect”. The Clapham Sect was a small but important group of Church of England social reformers, based in the eponymous suburb of London, who Elliott became associated with after moving to Clapham in the late 1790s. The Clapham Sect shared common political views regarding the liberation of slaves, the abolition of the slave trade and the reform of the penal system. As part of his Royal duties, Elliott also arranged the funeral carriage for Admiral Lord Nelson in 1805 after the victorious Battle of Trafalgar, which defeated the combined French and Spanish forces under Napoleon Bonaparte, and extinguished the threat of a French invasion of Britain.