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    Description

    Sir Henry Raeburn (British, 1756-1823)
    Mrs. Alexander Dirom, wife of Lieutenant-General Alexander Dirom of Mount Annan, 1819
    Oil on canvas
    30 x 25-1/4 inches (76.2 x 64.1 cm)

    PROVENANCE:
    By family descent to John P.A. Pasley Dirom (b. 1904);
    Anonymous sale, Christie's, London, "The Property of a Lady" (a relative of John P. A. Dirom on whose behalf this and three other Dirom portraits by Raeburn were sold), July 27, 1928, lot 124, purchased jointly by Colnaghi and Knoedler;
    Knoedler Gallery, New York, July 27, 1928-October 15, 1928;
    Howard Bonbright, Detroit, Michigan, acquired from the above, October 15, 1928;
    Thence by descent in the family to the current owner.

    LITERATURE:
    Knoedler Gallery Stock Book 8, Stock No. A296, Row 26, preserved at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, California;
    D.A.T. Mackie, Raeburn, Life and Work, PhD diss., The University of Edinburgh, Scotland, 1994, vol. II, no. 203, pp. 318-319, dated to circa 1814.

    Henry Raeburn painted four portraits of the Dirom family during the 1810s: Lieutenant-General Alexander Dirom (1757-1830); his wife (portrayed in the current portrait) Mrs. Alexander Dirom (1772-1853), nee Magdalene Pasley; their second son Captain Alexander Dirom (1800-1837); and their first son Colonel Pasley John Dirom (1794-1857). All four paintings were purchased by Colnaghi and Knoedler Galleries from the Christie's sale of July 27, 1928. Raeburn's portrait of Captain Alexander Dirom (1816-17), depicting him at age seventeen in his military uniform, is now in the permanent collection of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Virginia. The family was certainly not alone in seeking Raeburn, who was then at the height of his fame. Many leaders of Scottish society sat for him, including the lord president of the Scottish Parliament and the famous writer Sir Walter Scott.

    Magdalene Pasley was born in Portugal on January 5, 1772 to Robert Pasley of Craig and Mount Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and his wife Christina Pringle, eldest daughter of Alexander Pringle of Whytebank and Yair.

    In 1793, she married Lieutenant-General Alexander Dirom, a Scottish military commander who saw overseas service in Barbados, Jamaica and India. He is remembered also as an agricultural improver, which earned him fellowship of both the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. His most notable contribution was to identify the importance of salt in animal diets, leading to the widespread use of "salt-licks" from around 1800. The Diroms had 12 children.

    In the present portrait, Raeburn portrayed Mrs. Dirom, a noted beauty in her day, at half length, in a white muslin dress cut low at the neck, and a vivid red cloak falling over her arms.

    We are grateful to Dr. Duncan Thomson for his endorsement of the portrait of Mrs. Dirom as the work of Sir Henry Raeburn (email correspondence of May 2, 2019).

    We are grateful to Dr. Lucinda Lax, Senior Curator, National Galleries of Scotland, for her generous bibliographic assistance in cataloguing this lot.


    Condition Report*: Glue-lined canvas. Three of the four corners of the canvas show evidence of inpaint as though the painting had once been housed in a spandreled frame which came into contact with the canvas. Paint film in generally stable condition, with fine craquelure commensurate with age. A stretch of paint along the right edge is rather dry.

    Under UV examination the painting reveals that it had been selectively cleaned in the past, very likely once it was purchased by Knoedler and Colnaghi. Mrs. Dirom's face and torso were cleaned leaving the older degraded varnish throughout the background. There is only very little inpaint or strengthening which fluoresches. In Mrs. Dirom's left eye some slight dots of inpaint fluoresce, as well as touches of inpaint on the left and right sides to address modest frame abrasion.
    Framed Dimensions 36 X 31 X 3.5 Inches
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2019
    7th Friday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 918

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