THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH, R.A. (SUDBURY, SUFFOLK 1727-1788 LONDON)
THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH, R.A. (SUDBURY, SUFFOLK 1727-1788 LONDON)
THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH, R.A. (SUDBURY, SUFFOLK 1727-1788 LONDON)
THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH, R.A. (SUDBURY, SUFFOLK 1727-1788 LONDON)
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This lot has been imported from outside of the UK … Read more PROPERTY FROM A PROMINENT PRIVATE COLLECTION (LOTS 29 & 30)
THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH, R.A. (SUDBURY, SUFFOLK 1727-1788 LONDON)

Portrait of Admiral George Brydges Rodney, 1st Lord Rodney (1718-1792), full-length, in naval uniform on a ship, with a sea battle in the background

Details
THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH, R.A. (SUDBURY, SUFFOLK 1727-1788 LONDON)
Portrait of Admiral George Brydges Rodney, 1st Lord Rodney (1718-1792), full-length, in naval uniform on a ship, with a sea battle in the background
inscribed and dated 'Lord Rodney / Ap.l 12 th: 1782' (lower right)
oil on canvas
24 x 15 7/8 in. (61 x 40.5 cm.)
Provenance
By descent from the artist to his nephew,
Gainsborough Dupont (1754-1797), London; his sale (†), Christies, London, 10 April 1797, lot 71 (2 gns. to the following),
Francis Reynolds-Moreton, 3rd Baron Ducie (1739-1808), and by descent to his grandson,
Henry George Reynolds Francis, 1st Earl of Ducie (1802-1853), Tortworth Court, Gloucestershire; his sale (†), Searle's, on the premises, 7-11 November 1853, lot 617.
Montague Chambers QC (1799-1885), London; his sale (†), Christie's, London, 9 July 1886, lot 104 (23 gns. to the following).
Camille Groult (1832-1908), Bordeaux and Paris, and by descent.
with Historical Portraits, London.
Glyn Hopkins, England.
with Historical Portraits, London, by 2005.
Private collection.
with Simon Dickinson, London, by 2017, from whom acquired through John Driscoll in 2018 by the present owner.
Literature
J. Hayes, 'The Drawings of Gainsborough Dupont', Master Drawings, III, 1965, p. 245, as 'Gainsborough Dupont'.
J. Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-90, London, 2004, p. 406, as 'Gainsborough Dupont'.
H. Belsey, Thomas Gainsborough: The Portraits, Fancy pictures, and copies after Old Masters, New Haven and London, 2019, II, pp. 721-722, no. 776, illustrated.
Exhibited
Winona, MN, Minnesota Marine Art Museum, on long-term loan, 2018-2022.
Special notice

This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Director, Head of Department

Lot Essay

Admiral George Brydges Rodney was born to a prominent yet humble naval family. After completing his education at Harrow School as a King’s Letter boy, he began his naval career at the age of fourteen. A distinguished victory at Ventimiglia during the War of Austrian Succession in 1742 led to his promotion to Captain, making him one of the youngest to hold this post. He continued to climb the ranks, after crucial successes during the Seven Year’s War, he was awarded the title of Baronet. During the American Revolutionary War, he was appointed as commander-in-chief of the Leeward Islands Station (Barbados), where he played an integral role in the Battles of Saint Vincent and Martinique. He was criticised for his actions at St. Eustatius, where he rounded up and looted from the Jewish merchant community he suspected of aiding revolutionaries and for seeking prizes instead of cutting off the French aid to the Chesapeake Bay, where the Americans would gain a crucial victory at the Battle of Yorktown. After a short break in England, Rodney returned to the fray and cinched a critical win over the French at the Battle of the Saintes. After the battle, Rodney was credited with the invention of the naval strategy of ‘breaking the line’, where a ship takes advantage of the position of the enemy and breaks through the line of battle, enabling it to fire off both sides.
Thomas Gainsborough inscribed the present portrait with the date of his sitter's victory over the French at Saintes, April 12th 1782, and a captured sail with the fluer de lis is visible to the left of the composition. A portrait of Rodney commemorating this victory was first commissioned by Alderman Harley, whose daughter married the Admiral’s son. That version, larger than the present painting, remains in a private collection. Hugh Belsey has suggested that this version was painted on an intimate scale to minimize potential damages caused by sea transportation (op. cit.). This painting remained in the artist’s studio at the time of his death, and then passed to his nephew and student Gainsborough Dupont. A capable artist, Dupont made a drawing after the composition which served as the basis for a mezzotint (1788).
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