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Title Sophia, Lady Paston Cooper
Collection Alfred East Gallery, Kettering
Artist Constant, Jean Joseph Benjamin (French painter, 1845-1902)
Date 1899 (dated)
Signed yes

This full-length portrait depicts Sophia, the second wife of Sir Astley Paston-Cooper of Gadebridge, Hertfordshire. She is depicted in profile wearing a rich purple evening gown, long white gloves, jewels and tiara. At her side stands a hound. The French artist Constant made his name producing orientalist works, but spent his last years painting portraits. His fluent and painterly style, evident here, was influenced by his close study of Delacroix. Constant was particularly popular with English sitters and he painted several members of the royal family including Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra.

Current Accession Number KETTKM:162
Inscription front ul 'Benjamin Constant, 1899'
Subject animal (dog); portrait (Paston-Cooper, Lady Sophia); interior
Measurements 228.0 x 135 cm.0 cm (estimate)
Material oil on canvas
Acquisition Details Given by Brigadier-General Ferguson 1938.
Provenance Probably acquired from the artist by the sitter Lady Paston-Cooper, 1899-1928; by descent to Brigadier-General A. H. Ferguson of Polebrook Hall, near Oundle, 1928-1938.

The portrait was possibly painted to commemorate a special occasion. Sir Astley Paston-Cooper died in 1904; Sophia lived until 1928, dying at her townhouse in Eaton Square. Lady Sophia was the mother of Brigadier-General Ferguson of Polebrooke Hall, Oundle, who gave the portrait to the Alfred East Gallery. Ferguson commanded the second Lifeguards and was one of three sons by Sophia's first marriage to Colonel John Stephenson-Ferguson.

Constant exhibited at the Royal Academy but this portrait was not among those shown.

Rights Owner Alfred East Gallery
Author Dr Angela Smith



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