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    Sale 7540

    A House on the Wiltshire Downs

    6 March 2008, London, King Street

  • Lot 45

    Charles Philips (1708-1748)

    Group portrait of a family, possibly members of the Vernon family, with a servant, in an elegant interior

    Price Realised  


    Charles Philips (1708-1748)
    Group portrait of a family, possibly members of the Vernon family, with a servant, in an elegant interior
    signed and dated 'CP[linked]hilips. pinxit 1733.' (lower left)
    oil on canvas
    36½ x 53½ in. (92.7 x 135.9 cm.)

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    On both occasions the picture was sold at Christie's - in 1914 and 1917 - it was described as 'The Family of Admiral Vernon: The interior of an apartment, with the Admiral and his family about to take tea', while a plaque attached to the frame gives it the title 'Tea Party in Virginia'.

    The picture's Dashwood provenance makes it quite possible that the sitters are members of the Vernon family. John Vernon of Wherstead was left in his uncle's will, General Charles Vernon (1719-1810), 'all my family pictures together with all those of Royal Personages to be kept and preserved by him as heirlooms'. Having descended through John Vernon's sister, Lady Harland (née Arethusa Vernon), to her cousin, Charles Jenkin, Wherstead Park then passed to Charles Edmund Dashwood, whose grandmother, née Marianne Sarah Rowley, was a niece of Sir Robert Harland.

    The date of the picture (1733) does not seem to fit, however, with the identification of the sitter as Admiral Vernon (1684-1757), who only married Sarah Best in circa 1729, and only had one son who survived infancy. Admiral Vernon's elder brother James (1677-1756) had, by 1733, bought the estate of Great Thurlow, Suffolk, married and had children, although his wife Arethusa died in 1728, and his four known children, born between 1712 and 1719, do not obviously correspond with the ages of sitters in the picture.

    The style of the interior is that of circa 1710, but is most likely fictitious. One intriguing detail is the Royal crown forming the top of the chandelier, which is placed prominently above the sitters. It is that of the Prince of Wales and seems likely to indicate a close association between the sitters and Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-1751). One suggestion has been Charles Calvert, 5th Lord Baltimore (d. 1715), groom of the bedchamber and art advisor to Frederick Prince of Wales, and King George II's governor of Virginia. However, Charles Calvert did not marry until 1730 and his son and heir was only born in circa 1731. This painting might be compared with Philip's group portrait of The Strong Family now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, which was executed in 1732 and, interestingly, includes two mirrors topped with fleurs de lys of the Prince of Wales.

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    Presumably by descent to John Vernon of Wherstead Park (1776-1818) and by inheritance at Wherstead Park, to his sister
    Lady Harland (née Arethusa Vernon) (1777-1860), wife of Sir Richard Harland, Bt. (d. 1848), Wherstead Park, to her first cousin
    Charles Vernon, formerly Charles Jenkin (1790-1863), Wherstead Park, and by inheritance to
    Charles Edmund Dashwood (1857-1935), Wherstead Park, Ipswich ('The Dashwood Heirlooms'); Christie's, London, 26 June 1914, lot 104 (100 gns. to Sir Hugh Lane).
    Sir Hugh Lane (+), Lindsay House Cheyne Walk, London; Christie's, London, 6 July 1917, lot 114 (sold 130 gns. to Conody[?]).