John Scott, 2nd Earl of Eldon (1805-1854), commissioned the London portrait painter Henry Perronet Briggs to execute this group portrait of three of his daughters in 1839. It also commemorates his grandfather, John Scott, 1st Earl of Eldon (1751-1838), Lord High Chancellor of England during the reigns of Kings George III and George VI, who had died the previous year. Scott employed the leading sporting and animal painter Sir Edwin Henry Landseer to add the late Lord Chancellor's favourite German Spaniel, Pincher. Both artists had studied at the Royal Academy Schools, exhibited there (Briggs between 1814 and 1844; and Landseer between 1815 and 1873), and been elected Royal Academicians (in 1832 and 1831 respectively). Briggs exhibited a portrait of The Earl of Eldon, D.C.L. as High Steward of the University of Oxford at the installation of the Duke of Wellington as Chancellor in June 1834 at the Academy in 1838 (no.72).
John Scott, 2nd Earl of Eldon, married in October 1831 the Hon. Louisa Duncombe (d.1852), daughter of 1st Baron Feversham, and had a son, John, later 3rd Earl (b.1845), and six daughters, three of whom are depicted here. Charlotte Elizabeth Scott (1834-1864) is shown standing in the centre of the composition in a yellow dress, holding the tassel of her great-grandfather's Great Seal Purse, flanked by her two younger sisters. Charlotte later married in October 1856 her cousin, the Rev. Eldon Surtees Bankes, Rector of Corfe Castle (1854-1899), and Canon of Salisbury (1898-1915). Augusta Henrietta Scott (1836-1906), shown here reclining in a pink dress with her arm around her great-grandfather's favourite German spaniel, Pincher, later married in September 1859 Thomas, 2nd Baron Cottesloe. Katharine Frances Scott (1837-1903), shown here standing in a white dress, later married in September 1858 8th Viscount Boyne.
An old inscription attached to the stretcher in the 2nd Earl's hand records the date of the painting (1839), and identifies the various objects in the picture that allude to his grandfather's celebrated life. The selection of objects highlights Eldon's position as Lord High Chancellor: the salvers shown on the table behind the sitters having the Great Seals of Great Britain; and the Purse on the chair behind Charlotte Elizabeth being one of those used officially by him as Lord High Chancellor [lot 59 in the present sale]. In addition, 'the watch and chain, and seal presented by King George III' (noted in the inscription on the reverse), and the Tankard presented by King George IV in front of the salvers on the table, emphasise Eldon's close relationship with the successive monarchs.