Rosalba Carriera (Venice 1675-1757)
No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VA… Read more THE PROPERTY OF A NOBLEMAN (LOT 53)
Rosalba Carriera (Venice 1675-1757)

Portrait of Gustavus Hamilton (1710-1746), 2nd Viscount Boyne, long bust-length, wearing an ermine trimmed coat, tricorn hat and mask

Rosalba Carriera (Venice 1675-1757)
Portrait of Gustavus Hamilton (1710-1746), 2nd Viscount Boyne, long bust-length, wearing an ermine trimmed coat, tricorn hat and mask
pastel, heightened with white
23½ x 18¼ in. (597 x 476 mm.)
Reputedly given by Horace Walpole to the actress Kitty Clive, and hung at Little Strawberry Hill, the cottage put at her disposal by Walpole after her retirement.
with Colnaghi, London, circa 1820, where purchased by
Thomas Walpole the Younger (1755-1840), Stagbury, and by descent.
P. Toynbee, The letters of Horace Walpole, Fourth Earl of Orford, Oxford, 1903-5, illustrated as frontispiece.
W.S. Lewis (ed.), The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's Correspondence, Yale, 1937, XVII, p. 77.
C.K. Adams, 'Portrait Problems and Genealogy', The Genealogist's Magazine, XIV/11 (September 1964), pp. 382-8.
C.K. Adams and W.S. Lewis, 'The Portraits of Horace Walpole', The Walpole Society, XLIV (1970), no. C5, pp. 27-8, pl. 28c.
B. Sani, Rosalba Carriera, Turin, 1988, p. 311, under no. 267.
F. Russell, review of B. Sani, Rosalba Carriera, The Burlington Magazine, II, (December 1989), p. 857.
J. Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy 1701-1800, London, 1997, p. 116.
N. Jeffares, Dictionary of pastellists before 1800, London, 2006, p. 91.
B. Sani, Rosalba Carriera, Turin, 2007, p. 275, no. 303.
London, Guelph Exhibition, 1891, no. 314.
Cambridge, King's College, circa 1923-31.
London, Whitechapel Art Gallery, Eighteenth Century Venice, 1951, no. 27.
Eton College, Quincentenary Exhibition, 1956-7, no. 45.
London, Royal Academy, British Portraits, Winter Exhibition, 1956-7, no. 75.
London, Walpole Gallery, Venetian Baroque and Rococo Paintings 1650-1800, 1990, no. 10.
London, Tate Gallery, Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the 18th Century, 1996-7, no. 13.
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

This exceptional pastel, a portrait of Gustavus Hamilton, 2nd Viscount Boyne (1710-1746), is an important record of Rosalba Carriera's career as portraitist to many of those at the forefront of art and society in 18th Century Europe. Lord Boyne succeeded his grandfather, also called Gustavus, in 1723. The unusual name was probably chosen by his great-grandfather, Sir Frederick Hamilton, in honour of the Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus under whom he had served in the Thirty Years War. Some of Rosalba's most important patrons were from the English nobility many of whom visited Venice while on the Grand Tour.
Lord Boyne took his Grand Tour through Italy during 1730-1, travelling with Edward Walpole, second son of Sir Robert Walpole and Horace's elder brother. The pair are first recorded in Venice for the Carnival of January 1730, before travelling to Piacenza for the opera and then on to Rome, where they met the Irishman Owen (Mc)Swiney. Formerly a theatrical impresario in London where he was also a patron of Handel, Swiney fled England and bankruptcy for Italy. Described by J.G. Links as 'an engaging Irishman with a taste for art and theatre and a proneness to financial disasters' it was most likely through him, as agent to Canaletto and Rosalba, that Lord Boyne's portrait was commissioned and executed on his return to Venice in December of that year. A portrait by the artist of Lord Boyne's travelling companion Edward Walpole is at Houghton Hall, Norfolk (B.Sani, op. cit., 2007, no. 300) and he is thought to have sat to Rosalba around the same time.
In addition to a fine ermine-trimmed coat, Lord Boyne is shown wearing Venetian carnival costume: a bauta or lace veil, a black tricorn and a white mask, pushed away from his face. The pose and costume is similar to Rosalba's magnificent portrait of Charles Sackville, 2nd Duke of Dorset, now at Knole (B. Sani, op. cit., 2007, no. 321). As in the present pastel she has executed the intricate embroidery of the sitter's clothing by using white bodycolour and knifework. Both portraits display this same delicacy of technique, richness and colour, learnt in Rosalba's early career as a miniaturist.
The fame of the present portrait also rests on the incorrect identification of the sitter as Horace Walpole. The pastel was reputedly bought by Thomas Walpole of Stagbury at Colnaghi's circa 1820, and since he was 42 when Horace died and knew him well his identification of the sitter as his kinsman went unchallenged. Such was the power of this endorsement that it was this pastel that was used by Edward Lodge for The portraits of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain, published in 1831, becoming one of the most widely reproduced images of Walpole of the time. As C.K. Adams notes 'no portrait of Horace Walpole has been so widely exhibited and none has been more admired' (C.K. Adams, 1970, loc. cit.).
Two other versions of the portrait are known, both with a similar degree of finish and intensity, although with differences to the clothing worn by the sitter. One, formerly in the collection of the Clements family, descendants of Lord Boyne's close friend the Rt. Hon. Nathaniel Clements, M.P. (circa 1705-1777), at Killadoon, Co. Kildare, was sold at Sotheby's, New York, 24 January 2002, lot 54 and is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (B. Sani, op. cit., 2007, no. 302). Although it appeared in an inventory at Killadoon in 1856 as a portrait of Lord Boyne, the fame of the much-reproduced engraving after the present pastel meant that the identification was also later changed by the Clements family to Horace Walpole. The correct identification was made after the third version, now in an English private collection (B. Sani, op. cit., 2007, no. 301) was sold by Lord Boyne from Burwarton House, Bridgnorth, in 1956. That pastel was identified as Gustavus, Lord Boyne, and bore an inscription on the verso identifying '[Gusta]vus Viscount B[oyne] drawn at Venice by Rosalba'. In the following year Col. Henry Clements found the 1856 Killadoon inventory that recorded the original identification of his pastel.

More from Old Master and 19th Century Drawings

View All
View All