2 More
5 More

Portrait of Elizabeth Blake, Lady Wallscourt (1805-1877), three-quarter-length, playing a guitar

Portrait of Elizabeth Blake, Lady Wallscourt (1805-1877), three-quarter-length, playing a guitar
oil on canvas
36 x 28 in. (91.4 x 71.2 cm.)
Apparently given by the artist to the sitter’s parents, Mr and Mrs William Lock, and by descent to the sitter's son,
Erroll Augustus Blake, 4th Baron Wallscourt (1841-1918).
with Charles J. Wertheimer (1842-1911), London.
Isaac 'Jack' Joel (1862-1940), Childwickbury, St Albans, and by descent to his son,
Harry 'Jim' Joel (1894-1992); Christie's, London, 23 June 1978, lot 137.
Anonymous sale; Christie's, London, 18 April 1986, lot 131, when acquired.
The Bijou: Annual of Literature and the Arts Illustrated, 1829, frontispiece, illustrated.
D.E. Williams, The life and correspondence of Sir Thomas Lawrence, Kt., London, 1831, I, p. 467; II, p. 429.
Lord R. Sutherland Gower, Sir Thomas Lawrence P.R.A., with a catalogue of the artist's exhibited and engraved works, London, 1900, p. 164.
Sir W. Armstrong, Lawrence, London, 1913, p. 167.
Vittoria, Duchess of Sermoneta, The Locks of Norbury; the story of a remarkable family in the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries, London, 1940, pp. 319-321.
K.J. Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence, London, 1954, p. 61, pl. 97.
K.J. Garlick, ‘A catalogue of the paintings, drawings and pastels of Sir Thomas Lawrence’, Walpole Society, XXXIX, 1964, p. 191.
K.J. Garlick, 'Lawrence's Portraits of the Locks, the Angersteins and the Boucherettes', Burlington Magazine, CX, no. 789, December 1968, p. 673, illustrated, no. 34.
K.J. Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence: A Complete Catalogue of the Oil Paintings, Oxford, 1989, p. 277, no. 794, pl. 82.
London, Royal Academy, 1826, no. 65.
London, Royal Academy, Sir Thomas Lawrence, P.R.A., 1961-62, no. 42.

Brought to you by

Clementine Sinclair
Clementine Sinclair Director, Head of Department

Lot Essay

‘We see her in the full radiance of the famous Locke beauty, with large eyes, wild curls and parted lips, singing as she plays the guitar, a full white muslin fichu framing her pretty shoulders’ - The Duchess of Sermoneta, 1940
Painted in 1825, this highly engaging portrait of the young Lady Wallscourt – a rare example of the artist showing a sitter singing and playing an instrument - was executed when Lawrence was at the height of his powers and had firmly secured his position as the pre-eminent portraitist of his generation. In a letter to his sister, dated 12 May 1825, following the opening of the annual Royal Academy exhibition, Lawrence declared: ‘I have never painted better’ (Williams, op. cit., II, pp. 368-9). Indeed, Lawrence’s portraits from that year, including those of the Duchesse de Berry (Musée National du Château de Versailles et de Trianon), Princess Sophia (Royal Collection) and Charles William Lambton, The Red Boy (private collection), can be counted among the artist’s outstanding masterpieces from his illustrious career. Lawrence himself asked in March 1826 for the loan of the picture ‘for such an Engraving to be made of it as that of Lady Selina Mead’ (Sermoneta, op. cit., p. 320).
Born in 1806, Elizabeth was the daughter of William Lock (1767-1847) of Norbury Park, Surrey, and Elizabeth Jennings. On 23 September 1822, she married Joseph Henry Blake, 3rd Baron Wallscourt (1797-1849), son of Colonel Henry James Blake and Anne French. Her husband, who succeeded as 3rd Baron Wallscourt of Ardfry, County Galway on 11 October 1816, was a pioneering socialist, but also a man of erratic temperament and their turbulent marriage ended in separation. His obituary, published in the nationalist periodical The Irishman, described him as: ‘a kind landlord, a sincere philanthropist, and a true patriot’ (J. Cunningham, ‘Lord Wallscourt of Ardfry (1797-1849): An Early Irish Socialist’, Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society, 2005, LVII, p. 90). However, in her book The Locks of Norbury, the Duchess of Sermoneta provided a contrasting picture (op. cit.), describing him as: ‘ … A man of exceptional strength, and a well-known boxer, he would get half-crazed at times and very violent. He liked walking about the house with no clothes on, and, at his wife’s suggestion, carried a cowbell in his hand when in this state of nudity, so that maidservants had warning of his approach and could scamper away’. Something of Lady Wallscourt’s character can be sensed from her letters. Lawrence was clearly aware of her father’s keen interest in opera and she herself sang, writing to her mother in 1826 about the visit to Ardfry of an American who was ‘a fanatic per la musica: ‘We have been singing incessantly all day and all night: I am nearly dead.’ (Sermoneta, op. cit., p. 324).
The Lock family were one of Lawrence’s most important and enduring patrons, providing the artist with three generations of sitters, portraits of whom would span his whole career. Along with his friend John Julius Angerstein, the financier whose collection of Old Masters formed the core of the National Gallery, William Lock (1732-1810), the sitter’s grand-father, himself a connoisseur and art critic, was Lawrence’s most important patron and supporter from the artist’s early years in London. In 1790, the twenty-one year old Lawrence painted the remarkable unfinished portrait of Lock (fig. 1; Boston, Museum of Fine Arts), a virtuosic performance with the brush, thought to have been executed in a single sitting and displaying the young artist’s precocious ability to capture a likeness at speed. Elizabeth’s father, William, himself a keen patron of the arts and an aspiring painter, sat to Lawrence for a portrait that was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1791 (untraced) and, later, for the profile study drawing preserved in the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven (1800). Lawrence also painted Elizabeth’s mother for the full-length portrait (later cut down) exhibited at the Academy in 1799, and her brother William in 1814 (both whereabouts unknown). Finally, a year before Lawrence’s death in 1830, he executed a superb portrait on panel of Elizabeth’s grandmother, Mrs William Lock of Norbury, now in the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri.

More from Old Masters Evening Sale

View All
View All