Giving Thanks

November 27, 2008 at 11:42 am (books, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , )


This year there is much to give thanks for: the ability to pay mounting bills, and successful stays in hospital chief among them. And – as always – for this project, which continues to unfold.

Just yesterday evening I found a useful series of books (alas two volumes are missing; both of them waited for with baited breath! for they would contain ‘Cunliffe’ and ‘Smith’) = page scans at books.google of the Graves & Cronin 1899-1901 texts of A HISTORY OF THE WORKS OF SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS, the originals in the collection of the terrific New York Public Library.

In the authoritative text Sir Joshua Reynolds: A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings (Yale: 2000), author David Mannings relies on Graves and Cronin as well as The Life and Times of Sir Joshua Reynolds, by Leslie and Taylor (vol I here). THIS book had a handful of references to GOSLINGS, but the most intriguing was notice of a portrait of a generic “Mrs Gosling” (see page 388).

So the thrill of finding Graves and Cronin’s books are that there seem to be two portraits, one less fully known to them, of Mrs Goslings. Alas it is the less-fully-known (wouldn’t you know…) which concerns us here – for the portrait is said to have been of William Gosling’s mother!

Here is the description (bottom, p. 373):

GOSLING, Mrs.
          Elizabeth, daughter of William Houghton; married, November 3, 1763, Robert Gosling, of Hassobury, Essex, son [sic] of Sir Francis Gosling, the banker; died June 6, 1811.
          Sat in February, 1761, March, 1762, and August, 1764.

(Robert Gosling was of course the brother of Sir Francis.)

VERY intriguing to wonder whether Sir Joshua – who painted Sir Ellis and Lady Cunliffe (Margaret Elizabeth’s parents, William’s future in-laws) – could have brought the Goslings and Cunliffes into the same social sphere. Although Sir Ellis, of course, died the year Eliza Gosling was born, Lady Cunliffe lived on and off with her children and grandchildren; and she had a documented friendship with Sir Joshua (see his pocket books). That could mean that William and Eliza meet from childhood onwards!

Anyway, the volumes so far found online are A-CD-GH-L; and M-R. Once again I ask: Where is this portrait????

reynolds1

The Royal Academy has an interesting introduction to Sir Joshua’s pocket books — ridiculous to read that they paid (in 1873) a mere £29 10s for them! (I assume the meaning of £29.10 – or has the original cost been translated into today’s currency of pounds and pence??)

For more on Sir Joshua and Lady Cunliffe see my post.

[Photo of a page from Sir Joshua’s pocket book; from Graves and Cronin, vol D-G.]

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