2 More
5 More
Specifed lots (sold and unsold) marked with a fill… Read more PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION

Thomas Assheton-Smith (1752-1828), full-length, in a red jacket

Thomas Assheton-Smith (1752-1828), full-length, in a red jacket
signed and dated 'NDance 1775' (upper left, on the base of the urn)
oil on canvas
90 ½ x 56 3/8 in. (230 x 143 cm.)
Thomas Assheton-Smith (1752-1828), Vaynol, Caernarvonshire, and by descent in the family to the following,
Sir Charles Michael Duff, 3rd Bt. (1907-1980); (†) Sotheby's, London, 13 March 1985, lot 51.
with Colnaghi, London, by 1986.
Private collection, New York, by 1994.
with Sir Richard Osborn.
Acquired by the present owner in 1996.
F. Davis, 'Talking about the Salerooms', Country Life, 25 April 1985, pp. 1116-7, fig. 5.
B. Allen, 'Portraits at Colnaghi's London', The Burlington Magazine, CXXVIII, April 1986, pp. 305 and 307, fig. 57.
London, Colnaghi, The British Face: A View of Portraiture 1625-1850, 19 February-29 March 1986, no. 38.
Special notice

Specifed lots (sold and unsold) marked with a filled square ( ¦ ) not collected from Christie’s, 8 King Street, London SW1Y 6QT by 5.00 pm on the day of the sale will, at our option, be removed to Crown Fine Art (details below). Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent ofsite. If the lot is transferred to Crown Fine Art, it will be available for collection from 12.00 pm on the second business day following the sale. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Crown Fine Art. All collections from Crown Fine Art will be by prebooked appointment only.

Brought to you by

Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Director, Head of Department

Lot Essay

Painted in 1775, this beautifully preserved full-length portrait of Thomas Assheton Smith is an exceptionally fine example of Nathaniel Dance’s mature work. The classical elegance of the composition and vibrant palette display the considerable influence of the great eighteenth-century portraitist Pompeo Batoni (1709-1787), with whom Dance had worked in Rome during his formative years in Italy.
After his return to London in 1765, Dance rapidly achieved fame as both a portrait and history painter. His reputation in the latter genre was secured with King George III’s acquisition of his Timon of Athens in 1767 (Royal Collection). Dance was among the twenty-two artists who successfully petitioned the king in 1768 to establish a Royal Academy: in the first exhibition held the following year, the artist showed full-length portraits of King George III and Queen Charlotte (West Sussex, Uppark, National Trust); and in 1771 he exhibited a painting of David Garrick as Richard III (Stratford-on-Avon, Town Hall). At this point in his career, Dance evidently subscribed to the contemporary academic theory that placed historical painting first in the hierarchy of subject matter, but following the king’s appointment of Benjamin West as his official history painter in 1772, Dance turned increasingly to portraiture. In 1776, the year after the present picture was executed, the artist was commissioned by Sir Joseph Banks to paint the now celebrated portrait of Captain Cook (Greenwich, National Maritime Museum), for which Cook sat on 25 May of that year, shortly before his departure for the third and final voyage.
The sitter was the eldest son of Thomas Assheton of Ashley, Mobberley in Cheshire, and Mary Clayton, heiress of Brymbo Hall, Denbighshire. His father had added the surname Smith when he inherited the Vaenol and Tedworth estates in Gwynedd and Hampshire from his uncle William Smith. The sitter married Elizabeth, daughter of Watkin Wynn (1717-1774) of Foelas, Denbighshire, and the couple had eight children. Assheton Smith was a keen sportsman and became a prominent figure in the cricketing world following the establishment of the MCC in 1787; he took part in 45 major matches between 1786 and 1797. His second son, Thomas (1776-1858) was one of the outstanding amateur cricketers of the nineteenth century and a famous Master of foxhounds, with his contemporaries naming him ‘the British Nimrod’. His third son, William saw action at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 as lieutenant of HMS Temeraire, the subject of Turner’s 1838 masterpiece in the National Gallery, London. A portrait of the sitter, painted by William Beechey in 1826, is in the National Museum Cardiff, Wales.

More from Old Masters Evening Sale

View All
View All