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Painting Title John Cholmley
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Attributed to the circle of Huysmans, Jacob (Flemish painter, ca. 1630-1696, active in England)
Previously attributed to Riley, John (English painter, 1646-1691)
Date Earliest possibly about 1680
Date Latest possibly about 1694

A half-length figure looking half right, wearing full wig, brown coat and white cravat. The portrait is in a painted oval. John Cholmley died most likely in 1694. He is recorded in his brother Nathaniel's will (1687) as 'John Cholmley of the City of London, Esq'. Nathaniel married Mary Cholmley of Whitby in 1683 and died in 1687.

Another version of the same portrait of John Cholmley (with a later inscription 'Butler') is in the National Portrait Gallery (no. 2105, attributed to Jacob Huysmans, ca. 1680). It was thus considered that YORAG: 231 also may have been painted by Jacob Huysmans. Another portrait of John Cholmley, also oval but with the sitter looking left, inscribed 'John Cholmley Esq./ Bro to Nath Cholmley / 1694' is in a private collection. Portrait of Nathaniel Cholmley of 1687, in the Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, which also used to be traditionally attributed to John Riley, turned out to be by Benedetto Gennari II (Italian painter, 1633-1715), proven by the discovery of a letter by the artist. It seems that YORAG : 231 was not painted by the same artist as the Hull portrait, but it may have been created by whoever painted the version dated 1694, as the modelling to the face and hair are similar in both paintings. James Macdonald tentatively suggested that either John Closterman or Jacob Huysmans could be considered as potentiaI attributions. It seems possible that both paintings were copies after the painting in the National Portrait Gallery, perhaps completed just before the sitter's death.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 231
Inscription front ll 'Iohn Cholmley Esqr / Brother to Nathaniel Cho: / Died Feb 1693'
Subject portrait (John Cholmley)
Measurements 74.9 x 60.2 cm
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by J. B. Morrel 1948.
Provenance By descent from sitter through the Cholmley family, Howsham, to Hon. Mrs. Strickland; Howsham Hall sale, 3 November 1948, lot 651, purchased by J. B. Morrel.
Publications Hawkesbury (Lord), ‘East Riding portraits', The Transactions of the East Riding Antiquarian Society, Vol. 10, 1903, no. 74, pp. 50-51 as by John Riley; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings vol. II: English School 1500-1850, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1963, pp. 74-75, pl. 11 as by John Riley; Wright, C., From Medieval to Regency: Old Masters in the Collection of the Ferens, Hull, 2002, p. 192 as by J. Riley; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 342 as by unknown artist.

Howsham Hall was inherited in 1741 by Catherine Wentworth, who married Hugh Cholmley of Whitby Abbey in 1716. Hugh was a son of Nathaniel Cholmley and a nephew of the sitter.

John Bowes Morrell (1873-1963) was a member of York City Council, and twice Lord Mayor; as Chairman of the Art Gallery Committee he played a major role in the establishment of the Castle Museum. He campaigned for the foundation of the University of York. He gave his collection of various paintings, drawings and prints to the Art Gallery in York.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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