Pompeo Batoni (Lucca 1708-1787 Rome)
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Pompeo Batoni (Lucca 1708-1787 Rome)

Portrait of the Rev. Thomas Kerrich (1748-1828), in an embroidered blue waistcoat and fur-lined green coat, holding a letter in his right hand, by a column

Pompeo Batoni (Lucca 1708-1787 Rome)
Portrait of the Rev. Thomas Kerrich (1748-1828), in an embroidered blue waistcoat and fur-lined green coat, holding a letter in his right hand, by a column
inscribed 'A mons Monsieur Kerrich Gentilhomme anglois à Rome.' (lower left, on the letter).
oil on canvas
29 1/8 x 23 7/8 in. (74 x 60.7 cm.)
By inheritance through the descendants of the sitter's first cousin, Thomas Kerrich of Geldeston, to Captain Walter Fitzgerald Kerrich (d. 1913), Geldeston Hall, Norfolk, by 1907.
Private collection, Johannesburg, by 1982.
Prince F. Duleep Singh, Portraits in Norfolk Houses, Norwich, I, 1928, p. 177, no. 22, as 'Thomas Kerrich of Geldeston, circa 1780'.
E. Emmerling, Pompeo Batoni, sein Leben und Werk, Darmstadt, 1932, p. 104, no. 35, as 'circa 1780'.
J. Steegman, 'Some English Portraits by Pompeo Batoni', The Burlington Magazine, LXXXVII, March 1946, p. 63, no. 84, as 'circa 1783'.
I. Belli Barsali, in Dizionario biografico degli italiani, VII, Rome, 1965, p. 201.
E.P. Bowron and F. Russell, 'A List of Pompeo Batoni's British Sitters', Pompeo Batoni and his British Patrons, exhibition catalogue, Kenwood, 1982, p. 92, no. 99, as 'circa 1767'.
A.M. Clark, Pompeo Batoni: A Complete Catalogue of his Works with an Introductory Text, ed. E.P. Brown, Oxford, 1985, pp. 333-4, no. 379, as 'circa 1773-4'.
J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701-1800, compiled from the Brinsley Ford Archive, New Haven and London, 1997, p. 574.
E.P.Bowron and P. Kerber, Pompeo Batoni (forthcoming).
Special notice
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Georgina Wilsenach
Georgina Wilsenach

Lot Essay

This sensitive portrait was identified by the late Sir Brinsley Ford as being of Thomas Kerrich (1748-1828) rather than his eponymous cousin, Thomas Kerrich of Geldeston, by whose descendants it was inherited. Kerrich was the only son of the Rev. Samuel Kerrich (1696-1768), vicar of Dersingham and rector of Wolferton and West Newton, all in Norfolk, by his second wife, Barbara, daughter of the Rev. Matthew Postlethwayte, Archdeacon of Norwich. Educated at Magdalene College, Cambridge, where he received a B.A. in 1771, he was in that year awarded a Worts scholarship to travel for three years, accompanying a pupil, Daniel Pettiward, of Trinity Cambridge, on an extended tour of France, the Low Countries and Italy. He met Thomas William Coke, of Holkham, the great Norfolk seat, at Turin in 1772. Early in 1774 they met again in Turin, visiting Milan and Isola Bella, and in the ensuing April they went on a three-day visit to Tivoli from Rome: it was probably at about this time that they had a joint audience with Pope Clement XIV. The relationship of the two tourists from Norfolk is eloquently expressed in the contrast between this elegant, intimate portrait and Batoni's celebrated whole-length of Coke at Holkham.

Batoni was aware that English canvas sizes differed from those in general use in Rome, and from the late 1750s onwards understood that many of his clients wished to have pictures that conformed to the standard 30-by-25-inch format. In this instance small strips of excess canvas are turned over the stretcher on the top and to the right to make the desired size.

Kerrich was a scholarly man, collecting drawings of antiquities in Rome, and himself practising as an artist -- a self-portrait of 1774 was sold in these Rooms, 21 March 1989, lot 87. After his return to England he received an M.A. from his University (1775) and was elected to a fellowship at Magdalene. Ordained in 1784 he was presented to his father's former living at Dersingham in that year, and became Vicar of Hemsby in 1786. In 1797 he became the Protobibliothecarius of Cambridge, and was elected to the Society of Antiquaries. In 1798, the year of his marriage to Sophia, daughter of the Cambridge physician, Richard Hayles, he was appointed a prebendary of Lincoln, and in 1812 he became a prebendary of Wells. His religious duties were wholly compatible with his intellectual interests, and his role in the Senate Library; he also served, not uncontroversially, as Keeper of Manuscripts at the British Museum. A substantial inheritance from the sculptor, John Nollekens, in 1823, enabled him in his final years to become a significant collector of books, manuscripts and medieval works of art.

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