Seek & Find

December 19, 2008 at 12:12 am (books, portraits and paintings) (, , )

As much as I l-o-v-e BOOKS.GOOGLE it can also be highly frustrating: how to find entire SETS of books…, sometimes pages are missing or misplaced…, and then there are always missing volumes. But: Seek and ye shall find! Tonight a second look for volumes on Sir Joshua Reynolds unearthed the A-C volume of his works — and therefore the entries for the Cunliffes. Some interesting information indeed…

We already knew (see post) that Sir Joshua painted Lady Cunliffe. Here is her ‘description’:


Wife of Sir Ellis Cunliffe. Died October 7, 1814.
Sat in June, 1761. Paid for, July 1, 1761 Lady Cunliffe, £15 15s. 1761, Lady Cunliffe, £15 15s.

The picture belongs to Sir Charles Smith, Bart., at Suttons, Romford. 
[note: This would be Mary Gosling Smith’s son]


Here for the first time is the ‘description’ of Sir Ellis’s lost portrait – and a tantalizing notice that a copy exists!

CUNLIFFE, Sir Ellis, Bart.

M.P. for Liverpool; was the eldest son of Foster Cunliffe, an opulent [!] merchant, and M.P. for Liverpool; created a baronet in 1759; married, first, [!!] November 6, 1760 Miss Davis (“Gentleman’s Magazine,” 1760), and secondly, Mary, daughter of Henry Bennet [sic], of Moston, Cheshire; died October 16, 1767.
In a morning gown, seated in a chair.
Sat in January, 1762. Paid for, 1762 Sir Ellis Cunliffe, £15 15s. December 29, 1762, Sir Ellis Cunliffe, £15 15s.

Sir Robert A. Cunliffe, Bart., writes, May 31, 1899: “The three pictures by Sir Joshua Reynolds of Sir Ellis Cunliffe, his wife, and daughter, were left away from my family. I have a good copy by Allen of that of Sir Ellis.”

The picture belongs to Herbert Gosling, at Botleys Park, Chertsey.


mrs-drummond_theconnoisseur-nov1913The third portrait is of course also described:

CUNLIFFE, Miss Mary, afterwards Mrs. Drummond Smith.

Sat in June, 1786.

The picture belongs to Herbert Gosling, at Botleys Park, Chertsey. See SMITH, page 908. [note: that volume is still MIA.]


Gosh! I never knew Mary Bennett was Ellis Cunliffe’s second wife! Who was and what happened to ‘Miss Davis’?!? But more: Was there really a Miss Davis??? Ellis and Mary married on the 19 December 1760… Will have to hunt up the old GM (nothing online; and not sure UVM’s microform holdings go back that far). This could be incorrect information, or incorrect dating. Stay tuned!

Interesting that Herbert, a son of Robert ‘Robin’ Gosling (Mary’s nephew), and Mary’s own son are considered by a not-too-distant branch of the Cunliffe family to be “away” from the Cunliffes! See the Baronetage and also an informative lawsuit among Sir Ellis’ siblings and widow.

And one wonders: if Herbert owned the portrait of Mrs. Drummond Smith, how on earth did it get to the Comptons (for it is now at Castle Ashby)? The Comptons were of course related to Drummond Smith (he was the uncle of Augusta Smith, Eliza Chute, Maria Marchioness Northampton, and Emma Smith), and I could have sworn that while considered a Romney portrait it was exhibited by Lord Northampton. Must look into that one’s provenance again. (For, if in the hands of the Comptons, that would mean this book’s claimed ownership was incorrect.)

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