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Attributed to John Souch (c.1593-1645)
Attributed to John Souch (c.1593-1645)

Portrait of Lady Lawley, wife of Sir Thomas Lawley, 1st Bt., full-length, in a richly embroidered white dress and black hat, with a timepiece hanging from her waist, holding a fan in her left hand, her right hand on a book

Details
Attributed to John Souch (c.1593-1645)
Portrait of Lady Lawley, wife of Sir Thomas Lawley, 1st Bt., full-length, in a richly embroidered white dress and black hat, with a timepiece hanging from her waist, holding a fan in her left hand, her right hand on a book
oil on canvas
83 x 56 in. (211 x 146.2 cm.)
Provenance
with Thomas Agnew & Sons, from whom purchased by George Gibbs, 2nd Baron Wraxall, of Tyntesfield, together with the previous lot, as by 'David des Granges', in 1954, for £485 (receipt dated September 1954 in the archive at Tyntesfield).

Lot Essay

The sitter, the daughter and co-heir of John Manning, married Sir Thomas Lawley, 1st Bt., M.P. for Wenlock (1625-26; and 1628-29), for whom see the previous lot. Her elder son Sir Francis Lawley, succeeded his father as the 2nd Baronet and also as Member of Parliament for Wenlock (1650). For the connection between the Lawley and the Gibbs family see the note for the previous lot.

John Souch, a Cheshire-based portrait painter, was apprenticed to Randle Holme, the founder of a Chester dynasty of genealogists and heralds, from whom he is likely to have learned his painting skills. Souch's position as Holme's apprentice seems likely to have given him introductions to the mainly Royalist Cheshire and North Wales gentry who made up Holme's clientele and who would later become Souch's patrons. It seems no coincidence, for example, that Holme was responsible for the order of funeral for Sir Peter Legh of Lyme and for Sir Roger Puleston of Emral, Flintshire, both of whose portraits were painted by Souch, and also for the order of funeral of Lady Aston whose death is commemorated by Souch in his painting of Sir Thomas Aston at the deathbed of his wife, dated 1635, now in Manchester City Art Gallery (see J. Treuherz, 'New Light on John Souch of Chester', The Burlington Magazine, May 1997, p.302).

In his Burlington article on Souch (op.cit.) Julian Treuherz outlines some of the distinctive traits of Souch's work:

'the neat and carefully finished painting, especially of costume details such as lace collars, embroidered sashes and points; the use of soft white highlights blended to give an almost shiny look to the flesh; and an idiosyncratic way of modelling drapery folds in straight lines also with soft but satiny looking highlights. The figures are flat and stiff compared with those by Dutch artists of the period, and the facial modelling lacks depth. Where background settings are included, the figures stand uncomfortably in relation to their surroundings and perpective is imperfect ... Yet Souch's handling of hair, jewellery and faces is not without delicacy ...'

We are grateful to Sir Oliver Millar and to Karen Hearn for their assistance in cataloguing this picture.
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