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    SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS (British, 1723-1792)
    Half-Length Portrait of Lady Fortescue, Anne Campbell, circa 1759-60
    Oil on canvas
    31-3/4 x 27-1/2 inches (80.6 x 69.9 cm)

    possibly Christie's, Manson & Woods, London, February 4, 1860, lot 62: "Portrait of a Lady Fortescue, in a blue dress, leaning on a table. A beautiful early work," purchased by Ross for £17.15;
    Christie's, Manson & Woods, London, May 21, 1971, lot 4;
    Acquired from the above.

    This half-length portrait of Lady Fortescue (née Anne Campbell, second daughter of John Campbell of Cawdor Castle, Nairn and Stackpole Court, and second wife of Matthew, 2nd Baron Fortescue) has been accepted by Professor David Mannings in January 2011 as an autograph work by Sir Joshua Reynolds.

    This portrait's existence was unknown to Prof. Mannings at the time he published his two-volume catalogue raisonné, Sir Joshua Reynolds. A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings (Yale University Press, 2000), although he carefully noted in connection with a full-length portrait of the same sitter from 1757-8, that there was indeed strong evidence that Reynolds produced a second portrait of Lady Fortescue sometime between 1759 and 1760 (see p. 200, cat. no. 663). The following describes the circumstances in detail and leads to the conclusion that the present work was most probably that second portrait.

    Prior to painting the present portrait, Reynolds produced a pair of large full-length companion portraits of Lady and Lord Fortescue in 1757-8 and 1758, respectively. Both measured 127 x 102 cm and descended in the family of the sitters until they both burnt in a fire at Castle Hill, Devon in 1934. They are both included in Mannings' catalogue raisonné with photographs (cat. nos. 663 and 665, respectively), and that of Lady Fortescue matches the likeness of the sitter in the present painting.

    In the catalogue note to the full-length portrait of Lady Fortescue that perished in the fire, Mannings notes that the portrait had been engraved by James McArdyll who gave the date of the picture as 1757. When the work was exhibited together with its mate of Lord Fortescue at the National Portraits exhibition at South Kensington in 1867, Lady Fortescue was described as wearing a bluish dress with white lined sleeves for her portrait--a description that also matches her attire in this half-length portrait.

    Sir Joshua Reynolds kept records of his appointments with sitters religiously in his "Pocket Book." As Mannings notes (cat. 663, p. 200): "There are six appointments [listed] with Lady Fortescue in May 1757: 4 (eleven o'clock), 9 (at ten), 12 (midday), 14 (twelve-thirty), 18 (midday) and 21 (at one). The [full-length] picture must have been considered finished at this stage [because Reynolds jotted a memorandum near the date of May 20th in his Pocket Book which stated: Ld Fortescue at Castle Hill near South Malton to deliver the picture to the Porter in Town & write my Lord word]. At any rate it was sent to the engraver's and during the week beginning 4 Dec. 1758 Reynolds made a note to get it back: 'Send to MacArdell for Lady Fortescue.' The reason seems to be that the sitter, or her husband, wanted alterations made, because in 1759 there are further sittings. Appointments are recorded on Apr. 30 (two o'clock), May 15 (midday), June 2 (at two), 5 (11 o'clock) and 8 (twelve thirty), with a single appointment on 5 Mar. 1760 (twelve thirty), a total of six hours which seems too many for minor alterations and probably implies either extensive repainting or the production of a second portrait. However, no such picture is recorded."

    The present work portrays Lady Fortescue in a quite different attitude from that of her full-length likeness by Reynolds. Here, rather than directing her gaze toward her husband's portrait, turning her head to our right in nearly full profile, she engages the viewer directly, at nearly full face. Rather than placing her hand beneath her chin as she does in the full-length companion painting, Lady Fortescue rests her hand much higher on her face, almost at the level of her eye. The effect is very different. Whereas the hand beneath the chin is a characteristic modesty gesture--which goes back to the Roman pudacitia pose--the hand positioned nearer the eye and the top of the head communicates the effect of someone thinking. Additionally, rather than being portrayed against a verdant landscape, another traditional mode for presenting women of station, here she is shown against a magnificent red drapery, while resting her arm on an architectural element made of stone--a presentation not exclusively male but found more frequently in male than female portraits.

    It is tantalizing to speculate whether Lady Fortescue or her husband commissioned this second portrait, which communicates a quite different aspect of the sitter's personality.

    Condition Report*:  Framed. Over the course of its life, this painting has had a number of restorations. Reynolds' paintings are notoriously prone to condition issues, in part because of the delicate glazes he applied to create his distinctive skin tones. He seems to have used both oil glazes as well as tinting the varnish on top of the paint layer. Over time these have been lost in cleanings, which is the case in some passages of the present picture. Additionally, he used rather fugitive pigments, such as lakes, in his glazes which have faded over time.   This canvas has been lined and is stretched onto a 19th century French-style stretcher. The paint layer is heavily varnished. There is extensive cracking throughout the painting; some of it is in the varnish and some of it is in the paint layer itself.   There is some restoration addressing an eight inch vertical break in the paint layer which begins in the sitter's right arm and extends up into the background. There is also a twelve-inch vertical restoration situated one inch from the left side and there is an area of noticeable thinness in the brown triangle along the lower right side of the canvas. Over-cleaning is apparent in a number of areas, which accounts for transparencies in the garment and also some of the half tones in the face (there would have been more structure to the shadows modeling the nose for example).   Much of the restoration is now visible to the naked eye. The heavy application of varnish obscures the ultraviolet light from clear examination. If the paint layer were to be cleaned, it may be assumed that a better sense of condition could be assessed, and judicious restoration could be accurately addressed. In its original state, this was a stunning portrait and with the right approach, the painting could improve significantly.
    *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. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2011
    17th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,031

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    19.5% of the successful bid (minimum $14) per lot.

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