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Painting Title Portrait of Charlotte Fitzroy
Alternative Title Portrait of Lady Barbara Fitzroy
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Lely, Peter (Dutch painter and draftsman, 1618-1680, active in England)
Date Earliest probably 1677
Date Latest probably 1677
Description

A young girl richly dressed in red silk and a white chemise is seated right, taking grapes from an Indian servant who kneels on the left. Behind, on a stone wall, there is a bas relief of putti with a goat, that repeats the composition of a drawing (assumed to be after Correggio) in the Devonshire Collection at Chatsworth.

Charlotte (1664-1717/8) was the fourth child of the Duchess of Cleveland, Barbara Villiers, by Charles II, formally acknowledged by the king in 1672. In May 1674 Charlotte was betrothed to Sir Henry Edward Lee (1662/3-1716), who was created Earl of Lichfield, Viscount Quarrendon, and Baron Spelsbury. Charlotte married Sir Henry in 1677 (when she was 12) and later gave birth to 18 children. She was famous for her beauty, and she was subsequently painted by Verelst and at least twice by Kneller. Later depictions show similar facial features, which support the proposal that she is the child sitter in the YORAG : 18. On the other hand, judging from her other portraits (both as a child and as an adault), Charlotte had dark hair. However, she might have been depicted by Lely as blonde to better fit the personification of Beauty that she represents, and also to strengthen the contrast with the dark-haired servant boy. The painting was probably created on the occasion of her marriage in 1677, as she looks older than in her betrothal portrait painted in 1674 by Jacob Huysmans and in the presumed portrait of her with her mother by Gascars, probably from the early 1670s.

Current Accession Number YORAG : 18
Subject portrait (Charlotte Fitzroy)
Measurements 127 x 101.6 cm
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by National Art Collections Fund 1949.
Provenance Litchfield family; by decsent to Harold Arthur Lee, 17th Viscount Dillon (1844-1932); Viscount Dillon sale, Sotheby's London, 24 May 1933, lot 69, purchased by Vicars (;); Sir Bernard Eckstein sale, Sotheby's, London, 8 December 1948, lot 85, purchased by Agnew's Ltd.; purchased by National Art Collections Fund, January 1949.
Principal Exhibitions Peintures Anglaises des Collections d'York et du Yorkshire, Dijon, 1957, no. 2; Gifts to galleries, Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, 1968, no. 53; Sir Peter Lely (1618-80), National Portrait Gallery, London 1978-9, no. 47; Innocence and Experience. Images of Childhood in British Art from 1600 to the Present, City Art Gallery, Manchester (touring), 1992-3, no. 63; The New Child: British Art and the Origins of Modern Childhood 1730-1830, University Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives, University of California, Berkeley (touring), 1995-96; Painted Ladies: Women at the Court of Charles II, National Portrait Gallery, London, and Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001-02, no. 63.
Publications Harold Arthur Lee, H. A., 17th Viscount of Dillon, Catalogue of Paintings in the Possession of Viscount Dillon at Ditchley, Spelsbury, Oxfordshire, 1908, cat. 86, p. 46; National Art Collections Fund Annual Report 1949, 1949, p. 25; PREVIEW. City of York Art Gallery Quarterly, 6, April 1949, vol. I, pp. 64-65; Beckett, R.B., Lely, London, 1951, cat. 199, p. 45 as ‘Lady Barbara FitzRoy'; Waterhouse, E.K., Painting in Britain 1530-1790, London, 1953, p. 66, pl. 58a as ‘Lady Barbara Fitzroy'; Jacob, J., Peintures anglaises des collections d'York et du Yorkshire, Dijon, 1957, cat. 2, ill. p. 11; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. II: English School 1500-1850, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1963, pp. 58-60, pl. 8 and cover as 'Charlotte Fitzroy'; Stewart, J.D., ‘Pin-ups or Virtues; The Concept of the 'Beauties' in Late Stuart Portraiture', in Stewart, J.D., and Liebert, H. W., English Portraits of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, Los Angeles, 1974, 9-11, pl. 5A; Catalogue Supplement 1974: Amendments and Additions to Catalogue Volumes I and II, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1975, p. 18; Millar, O., Sir Peter Lely (1618-80), London, 1978, cat. 47, p. 64; Holdsworth S., Crossley J., Innocence and Experience. Images of Childhood in British Art from 1600 to the Present, Manchester, 1992, no. 63 p. 110, ill. p. 78; Steward, J.C., The New Child: British Art and the Origins of Modern Childhood 1730-1830, Berkeley, 1995, pp. 38, 84, pl. 10; Ekserdijan, D., 'A Portrait by Lely and a Drawing after Correggio: an Artist's Use of his Collection of Drawings', Apollo, no. 147, 1998, pp. 28-29; McLeod C., Maciari Alexander, J., Painted Ladies: Women at the Court of Charles II, London, 2001, cat. 63, pp. 162-163; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 304; Henderson, B., Sir Peter Lely (1618-1680): Dutch Classicist, English Portraitist, and Collector, Florida, 2008, pp. 71-72.
Notes

The canvas had been relined.

It had been assumed that the painting in York was created c. 1672 on the occasion of Charlotte's betrothal. However, the betrothal actually took place in 1674 and on that occasion the couple were portrayed by Jacob Huysmans (the painting in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne); Charlotte seems to be younger in Huysmans' portrait (when aged 10) than in the one in York. YORAG : 18 is more likely to show the 12-year-old girl, who is receiving homage as a new Lady of Lichfield (the wedding took place in 1677).

In the Ditchley Catalogue, 1908, it was suggested that the girl was daughter of Lady Baltimore, who was a daughter of the Earl of Lichfield, so the sitter would be a granddaughter of Charlotte Fitzroy, born at the beginning of 18th century, which is obviously a mistake (Lely died in 1680). Harold Arthur Lee-Dillon however subsequently suggested Barbara Fitzroy (1672-1734), daughter of the Duchess of Cleveland. This identity is, however, not likely; surviving portraits of Barbara Fitzroy (both as a child, e.g. in a portrait by Thomas Pooley of 1677, and as an adult) shows different facial features than those of the child depicted in YORAG : 18. Apparently Barbara had smaller eyes, narrower lips and rounder face than her sister, however she seems to have been blonde. It was also more likely that Lely would portray Charlotte, who was officialy accepted as a daughter of Charles II; Barbara was also publicly acknowledged by the king, but he was probably not the father. It is probable though that the confusion in identification of the sitter was caused by the resemblance of the child's features to the girl portrayed with her mother (Barbara Villiers) by Henri Gascars (private collection, sold at Sotheby's London 1st June 2004, lot 11), which was engraved in reverse (e.g. National Portrait Gallery, NPG D30499). It is uncertain which daughter was portrayed by Gascars; it is usually assumed that it was Charlotte (probably c. 1670), but one of the engravings after the portrait was inscribed identifying the girl as Barbara Fitzroy. Gascars' portrait was popular, as there was a miniature created probably by Nicholas Dixon (possibly in more than one version, one of them in the Louvre, Cabinet des dessins RF 203, is catalogued as 'Portrait présumé d'Henriette d'Angleterre avec sa fille'). In any case, Barbara Fitzroy is not likely to be the sitter of YORAG : 18 as she was 8 years old at the time of Peter Lely's death, and by the end of 1670s she was in France. As a result, the sitter is indeed most likely to be Charlotte Fitzroy.

The attribution to Peter Lely is widelly accepted and additionally supported by the fact that there is a mezzotint by William Faithorne (1656-1701), repeating the composition (with minor changes and with the portrait of a child of different features), entitled ‘Beauty's tribute' and inscribed with the verse: ‘Beauty commands submission as it's due, | Nor is't the slave alone that owns this true | Much fairer Youths shall this just tribute pay, | None Fate deplore, but thankfully obey'. The engraving in inscribed as after P.Lely ('P. Lelly pinxit'), and is assumed to be a portrait of Elizabeth Cooper, possibly the daughter of Edward Cooper who published the print.

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

 

 

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