Sir Martin Archer Shee, P.R.A. (Dublin 1769-1850 Brighton)
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Sir Martin Archer Shee, P.R.A. (Dublin 1769-1850 Brighton)

Portrait of George Watson Taylor (1770-1841), M.P., half-length, in a blue coat with a cream waistcoat and white stock

Details
Sir Martin Archer Shee, P.R.A. (Dublin 1769-1850 Brighton)
Portrait of George Watson Taylor (1770-1841), M.P., half-length, in a blue coat with a cream waistcoat and white stock
with inscription and dated 'George Watson Taylor, By Martin Archer Shee, RA 1820' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
30 x 25 in. (76.2 x 63.5 cm.)
Provenance
Lady Egerton of Tatton.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 22 February 1935, lot 41 (with a portrait of Mrs. Watson Taylor).
Elton John and his London Lifestyle Sale; Sotheby's, London, 30 September, 2003, lot 353.
Exhibited
London, Royal Academy, 1821, no. 354.
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Lot Essay

The sitter was the fourth son of George Watson of Saul's River, Jamaica and Isabella Stevenson. He married Anna Susanna Taylor (1781-1853) of Jamaica, and in 1815 assumed, upon the death of her brother Sir Simon Bissett Taylor Bt., the arms and estates of his wife's family. George Watson Taylor, already well off financially through his family's sugar plantations in Jamaica, found himself in control of a vast fortune. He embarked on a successful political career and between 1816 and 1832 was Member of Parliament for Newport, Isle of Wight, Seaford, East Looe and finally Devizes.
He was considered one of the greatest collectors and connoisseurs of the 19th Century and he spent lavishly on art. Despite his enormous wealth he seems to have squandered his income, estimated in 1815 to be £95,000 p.a.. This decline in fortunes forced him to part with his collections, until finally the contents of his lavish home, Erlestoke Park in Wiltshire, were dispersed in an auction sale containing 3,572 lots (9th July-1st August 1832).

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