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 Aken, Joseph van (Flemish painter, ca. 1699-1749, active in England) , The Man of Ross

Core Record

Title The Man of Ross
Collection Hereford Museum and Art Gallery
Artist Aken, Joseph van (Flemish painter, ca. 1699-1749, active in England)
Date Earliest about 1733
Date Latest probably about 1740
Description A 'conversation piece' depicting John Kyrle, The Man of Ross, the Hertfordshire altruist commemorated in Pope's Moral Epistle (1732). He is shown distributing food among the people, surrounded by an admiring crowd. Kyrle wears a brown coat and white shirt, black tricorn hat with silver trim and white feather and long powdered wig and sits on a white horse outside an inn. He takes food out of a large basket for a ragged child who stands with his back to the viewer. On the left of the composition, a simple looking boy strokes the horse's mane. The boy's black hat, white shirt, red coat and black apron possibly represent the uniform of the charity school that Kyrle contributed to during his lifetime. To the left of him, a man in shade wears dark clothing and a wide brimmed, brown hat tied around his neck. He is probably a miner from the Forest of Dean. According to Johnson, §Kyrle was a man of known integrity and active benevolence, by whose solicitation the wealthy were persuaded to pay contributions to his charitable schemes§. To this category, belong the two figures to the left of the composition. A lady depicted in near profile and a gentleman in a light brown coat, white shirt and full light brown wig holds a cane and a sword. Finberg notes that the clothing of the man to the left of the work seems §to belong to an earlier age§ and may have been inserted from an earlier work as §donor§. In the background, a stately home indicating Kyrle's role as an enthusiastic amateur architect and landscape gardener.
Current Accession Number 4727
Subject everyday life (almsgiving); history (Kyrle, John); literature (Pope, Aleander, Moral Epistle)
Measurements 75.5 x 61 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by Friends of the Hereford Art Gallery 1945.
Provenance James Bourlet (;); Brodby Gallery (;)
Publications Finberg, Hilda F., 'The Man of Ross by Van Aken', Burlington Magazine, September 1940, pp. 87-88.
Notes The Man of Ross was John Kyrle 1637 - 1724, commemorated in Alexander Pope's third Moral Epistle (1732). On the back: 'B.I.A.F. MRS. NEWTON'S EX.' Also auction house label: 'I.S. Joseph van Aken/The Man of Ross (John Kyrle) c. 1730/Hereford City Museum and Art Gallery/A man of refined judgement whose landscape at Ross combined sense and artifice.' Modern label: 'Acquired with the assistance of the Merrick Bequest and the friends of Herefordshire Museum and Arts.' Small gold label, 'Brodby Gallery'. Another label: 'James Bourlet' (the art dealer, James Bourlet ca. 1852 of Bourlet and Sons Ltd; or James Bourlet the fine art shipping company). A copy of this painting by Van Aken is in the possession of the Hon. Mrs Uhlman, Croft Castle, Nr. Leominster, Herefordshire, HR6 9PW. It was purchased at Christie's in the 1950s from the collection of Mr Davies, one time chairman of Christie's.
Rights Owner Hereford Museum, Herefordshire Heritage Services
Author Dr Patricia Smyth



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