Thomas Hudson (1701-1779)
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VA… Read more
Thomas Hudson (1701-1779)

Portrait of the family of the 3rd Duke of Marlborough, a landscape beyond

Thomas Hudson (1701-1779)
Portrait of the family of the 3rd Duke of Marlborough, a landscape beyond
oil on canvas
23 x 36¾ in. (58.4 x 93.3 cm.)
By descent in the family of the sitters, until given by the 4th Duke of Marlborough to his second son, Lord Francis Spencer, later 1st Lord Churchill.
Lady Oliphant; Christie's, London, 20 December 1940, lot 61 (191 guineas to Carling).
Sybil Frances Spencer Moat;
sold by her daughter, Elizabeth C. Moat, Sotheby's London, 19 November 1969, lot 32 (bought Gabriel Harrison).
S.H. Pavière, The Devis Family of Painters, Leigh-on-Sea, 1950, p.62, no.164.
London, Kenwood, 1979, Thomas Hudson 1701-1779, no.54.
Special notice
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

This sketch is the basis for the large group at Blenheim, one of Hudson's largest and most ambitious works. The sheer scale of the Blenheim picture may account for Hudson adopting the practice of painting a preparatory sketch. Hudson's only other known sketch is for the Gopsall Handel which is rather less finished, suggesting that it may have been for the artist's own use in working out the composition, whereas the Marlborough sketch may have been intended for the Duke's approval.

Although this sketch has previously been attributed to Devis, the various changes made in the finished work and the presence of such a sketch in Hudson's sale, the only one of its sort, leaves no doubt as to its authorship. In the finished work, one column of the colonnade is removed thereby tightening the composition and emphasising the division of the group into three, and the background, vague and imprecise in the sketch, is replaced by a recognisable view of Blenheim.

Charles Spencer, 3rd Duke of Marlborough (grandson of the John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough) was the son of Churchill's daughter Anne and Charles, 3rd Earl of Sunderland. He became the 3rd Duke of Marlborough on the death of his aunt, Henrietta, Countess of Godolphin and Duchess of Marlborough. The group shows the Duke and his family: on the left dressed as cricketers, George (b.1739) and Charles (b.1740); in the middle the Duke, his wife Elizabeth Trevor (d. 1761) seated, and Elizabeth (b. 1737); and on the right, Robert the youngest (b. 1747) and Diana the eldest (b. 1734). The finished group is datable to 1753-55 and it has been suggested that given the length of time it would have taken to complete a work of this size, the sketch may date to a year or two earlier.

More from British Pictures 1500-1850

View All
View All