The seated figure is possibly Stanfield’s son, George (1828-1878) aged about sixteen, dressed in ‘historic’ 17th century costume. The study is likely to relate to Clarkson’s oil painting, Scene near Feldkirch in the Tyrol which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1845 (Sotheby’s, London, 21 November 2006). The painting is set in a romantic landscape in the scrub-covered foothills of the mountains, with an artist standing sketching beside a cave with several figures in armour lounging outside. The historic theme of the oil has precedents with Salvator Rosa (1615-1673), whose work Stanfield knew to some degree after seeing it in Florence in 1839 and with the more contemporary success of Sir Charles Lock Eastlake’s (1793-1865) banditti subjects.
There is no clearly identified portrait of George but two other sketches of a young man in historic dress suggest that George modelled for his father. There is a similar drawing of a figure in the same dress as the present sketch which is thought to be of George (R. Took, The Spectacular Career of Clarkson Stanfield, 1793-1867, exhibition catalogue, Tyne and Wear County Council Museums, 1979, no. 254.). Secondly, a Sketching Society drawing in the British Museum shows a young artist walking past two banditti in Italy, the artist is dressed differently and has a small beard and moustache but it is likely that George also modelled for this work (op. cit. no. 211).
We are grateful to Dr. Pieter van der Merwe, General Editor and Curator, Royal Museums Greenwich for his help with this catalogue entry.