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Anton Raphael Mengs (Aussig 1728-1779 Rome)
Anton Raphael Mengs (Aussig 1728-1779 Rome)

Portrait of John, 7th Earl of Galloway, three-quarter-length, in van Dyck costume

Anton Raphael Mengs (Aussig 1728-1779 Rome)
Portrait of John, 7th Earl of Galloway, three-quarter-length, in van Dyck costume
indistinctly signed and dated (partially strengthened): 'Antonio Raphael Mengs/fecit/Roma 1758' (lower right)
oil on canvas
41 x 32 in. (104.2 x 81.3 cm.)
Commissioned from the artist by the sitter, and by descent to the vendor.
F. Russell, 'The British Portraits of Anton Raphael Mengs', National Trust Studies, 1979, The National Trust, pp. 13 and 17.
S. Roettgen, catalogue of the exhibition, Anton Raphael Mengs and his British Patrons, London, 1993, p. 22, fig. 11.
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. 391.

Lot Essay

John Stewart, Viscount Garlies, subsequently 7th Earl of Galloway (1736-1806), was the elder son of Alexander, 6th Earl of Galloway, who owned substantial estates near Newton Stewart in Galloway. Educated at Glasgow University, Garlies subequently made the Grand Tour, following the example of his father who is recorded in Italy in 1716-17. Accompanied by his governor, Mr. Smith, Garlies probably set out late in 1757. He was in Rome by 26 April 1758, when the Scottish architect Robert Mylne records that he was teaching him the principles of architecture. In addition to commissioning this portrait when in Rome, he ordered a copy of the Colonna version of Titian's Venus and Adonis (i.e. the studio version now in the National Gallery, London) from James Nevey: this copy is lost. Garlies may also have purchased a Saint John preaching attributed to Mengs, which was in the Galloway sale, Christie's, 12 February 1825, lot 80. Garlies visited Turin on his return journey in or after August 1758. The letter-book of Andrew Lumisden records that, when in Turin, he unrolled Mengs' portrait to show it, and some paper stuck to it when it was repacked, as [Sir] Robert Strange later discovered (for references, see Ingamells, loc. cit.). Garlies' father was a Jacobite, and his first wife was the daughter of the 8th Earl Marischal, whose family also remained loyal to the Stuarts: his acquaintance with Lumisden and Strange, both of whom had strong Jacobite leanings, may thus not have been fortuitous.

This portrait has a distinguished place in the sequence of Mengs' British commissions. The artist, who had studied in Rome in the previous decade, returned to the city in 1752. He quickly emerged as the main rival of the most successful native painter of his generation, Batoni. The latter in the years round 1780 had realised how profitable a genre the portraiture of those on the Grand Tour could be. While Mengs set more store by his historical and religious pictures, he too was alert to the opportunity of portraiture and in the later 1750s enjoyed a success in this sphere which challenged that of Batoni. Less flamboyant and extrovert than Batoni's portraits, those of Mengs exemplify his studied yet controlled classicism, championed so willingly by his fellow German Winckelmann. That both painters portrayed a number of sitters, including Lord Brudenell, Sir Brooke Bridges and William Fermor of Tusmore, demonstrates that such patrons and their advisers were aware of the competition between the two. This portrait of Lord Garlies is particularly close in handling and feeling to that of Robert Stewart, later 1st Marquess of Londonderry (1738-1821) at Mount Stuart (the National Trust, Rottgen, op. cit., no. 14). As Rottgen observed, the design depends directly on van Dyck's portrait of the painter Pieter Stevens in the Iconographic. But there is nothing theatrical about Mengs' characterisation and the portrait exemplifies the qualities of reticence and immediacy that represent the quintessence of Mengs' portraiture.

The loan of this picture has been requested for the exhibition Art in Rome in the Eighteenth Century which will be held at the Museum of Art, Philadelphia from 27 February to 21 May 2000, and at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from 17 June to 17 September 2000.

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