Decommissioned from one museum and long “for sale” at a dealer, the portrait of William Ellis Gosling by Sir William Beechey is a star at the El Paso Museum of Art. Now viewers from far and wide can see some up close & personal views of the young babe who became the eldest brother of my diarist Mary Gosling. Click on the picture to watch a short (2 minutes) film on YouTube.
Always searching for more, I’ve come across this ENCHANTING portrait at the Metropolitan Museum of Art – which features a cherubic William Heathcote (later the 5th baronet), with his cousins, painted by William Owen c1803.
The museum’s write-up about the painting is fascinating: for it proves how wrong a catalogue attribution sometimes can be! The baby in the quartet was, in 1938, thought to be William (born in 1801). This then meant that the children surrounding the baby were all little girls… When you click on the picture to see the ENTIRE portrait (it will take you to the Met, and open in another window) you will see why this is so important a mistake.
- when at the Met’s website, click under “catalogue entry” for the painting’s full history
William, who was a GREAT CHUM of Edward Austen, was the son of the Rev William Heathcote, vicar of Worting. Jane Austen knew the Heathcotes well; little William’s mother was the former Elizabeth Bigg, daughter of Lovelace Bigg-Wither. Elizabeth returned to her parental home following the early death of her husband. Jane Austen was friendly with all the Bigg sisters of Manydown.
- read online Materials for a History of The Wither Family
The painter, William Owen, exhibited the work in 1806.
The fascinating part of the history is what happened in 2012 – just two years ago – when a descendent gave the museum access to family history and, based on birth dates, the Met re-evaluated the sitters.
The Heathcote pictures (yes, in the PLURAL) were sold off in the 1930s, by a distant relation who had inherited the baronetcy (as mentioned, Edward Austen’s friend was the 5th baronet). As the website says, the extensive collection “constituted a rather comprehensive record of the appearance of succeeding generations from the late seventeenth century until shortly after 1800“. Breaks my heart to read of families divesting themselves of The Old Family Portraits – but without such divestment these would not be found online now…
Owen’s work has great charm, in the rusticity of the scene presented.
- compare the heir to Hursley with the Gosling family heir, in Beechey’s portrait of William Ellis Gosling
- read online the history of Sir William Heathcote, 5th baronet
I forgot to mention: William Heathcote’s first wife was Caroline Perceval, daughter of the 2nd Baron Arden — who was related to the Comptons of Castle Ashby (ie, Emma Austen’s Aunt and Uncle Northampton). So, in a way, William “married into the family” even before Edward Austen did! (He and Emma Smith married on 16 December 1828.)
Back in November 2013 I ran a lengthy post, hoping to ID a portrait which was a focal piece in a drawing – possibly sketched by eldest sister Augusta Smith – of some room that was wholly unidentified.
In trying to find information about the ceiling medallions in Tring Park’s drawing room (still in situ!), I found this Hertfordshire website that I’m sure I have read before. Only, last evening, it took on new meaning! The description is all about Drummond Smith’s Tring Park, c1802:
The apartments are handsomely furnished, and in several of them there are some good paintings, among which we cannot avoid noticing a singular whole length of Queen Elizabeth, which hangs in the small drawing-room upon the right of the hall. This painting is not improbably a copy of that by Zucchero, which hangs in the palace at Kensington….
In my original post I was hoping against hope that it might have been a family member. BUT: I’ve now found an image of that very “singular whole length” portrait!
Several books, like this one from 1802, describe the painting, identifying it as a Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, and one among several full-length portraits owned by Drummond (Emma’s great uncle; it is his baronetcy that Charles Joshua Smith, Emma’s eldest brother, inherited). Rather than Kensington Palace, its home is Hampton Court. But even this portrait carries some mystery: fascinating article by Francis Carr (a companion page can be read here).
So much is up for grabs: the portrait’s sitter – its artist – the date it was done. But my mystery has been solved: The room at Tring which once contained the portrait in the sketch being described as “the small drawing room upon the right of the hall.”
NB: In looking for confirmation that it is indeed a portrait of QEI, I found this fab array of portraits:
Breaking news of a terrific website:
If you’re like me, you might look at a portrait and wish you could “date” it; or, you might wish to know what costume looked like, say, in 1817. This database will help! A lot of “famous” faces, and you’ll soon begin to recognize certain “famous” artists, too. But what a wealth of well-arranged, early to navigate information & images!
There’s even a “History Timeline” which lays out a what-happened-when series of happenings, compositions or world events. For instance, if you see 1813’s mention of JANE AUSTEN’S PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and wish to see what portraits looked like from c1813, simply click on the link – et voilà!
Artwork represented comes from many nations and time periods; portraits are nicely ID’ed.
Reading through the first chapter of my book (those purchasing Two Teens in the Time of Austen: Random Jottings, 2008-2013 get a slightly-stale taste of that opening chapter) I was submerged into Mary’s world via her 1814 trip to Oxford when I read aloud the following:
“Two of Mr. Gosling’s four sons resided in college in 1814: William Ellis, the eldest of the seven Gosling children, only weeks beyond his twentieth birthday; and Robert, one year younger. William had entered Brasenose College on 10 July 1812, and seems to have taken no degree. Robert was fairly new to college, having matriculated on 27 January 1814. He stayed through 1822, leaving with a Master’s degree.”
January 27th?! I long have had Monday in mind as “Mozart’s birthday” (you can always tell when the anniversary of that day approaches: the local radio station plays a LOT of Mozart!). But reading my little history, I found myself whispering to myself: two hundred years ago to the day…
I have been lucky enough (thank you Mark & Emma!!) to see a portrait of all three Gosling boys – William, Robert and Bennett – painted some few years later. What a handsome trio! Though, in some ways, the most “pleasing” countenance can be said to belong to Robert. As a toddler he was compared to Falstaff for his roundness; as an old man in a long-exposed photograph he reminded this American of Abraham Lincoln: long, lean, and wearing a stove-pipe hat!
But two-hundred years ago TODAY, on 27 January 1814, Robert Gosling, a young man, had matriculated at Christ College, Oxford — and that summer his sister Mary wrote down the trip her family (“Mama, Papa, my Sister and myself”) took in order to visit the boys. That wasn’t the first diary of hers that I read, but ultimately it has so-far become the earliest of her writings that I have found.
- Did the “Great Hall” of Christ Church College really serve as inspiration for HOGWARTS HALL? Mary was there… and left her thoughts: “The Hall is one of the most magnificent in Oxford.” (and I remember that scene in the first film, vividly)
Being CHEST-DEEP in portraits this week, I was so excited to find two Janine Barchas-related websites. One, a 2012 “work-in-progress” page on the Aphra Behn.Org “interactive journal” (see also ABO’s new website); the other, her up-and-running “WHAT JANE SAW” website.
Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will realize (quickly!) that my interest in Austen is only outstripped by my fascination with my SMITH & GOSLING families. What JANE AUSTEN SAW is surely also WHAT THE SMITHS & GOSLINGS SAW!
Emma’s youthful diaries are filled with references to exhibitions; alas, no 1813 diary written by Emma exists (that I know of….). BUT: An 1813 diary exists for Eliza Chute.
Unfortunately, Eliza was less likely to be in London than her sister Augusta Smith, and nothing exists at HRO (Hampshire Record Office) for Mamma for any of the years comprising the decade of the 1810s. Mary Lloyd Austen also has a diary for 1813, but, like Eliza Chute, was even less likely to be in London during “the season”.
If I had been given the nod by JASNA to visit England this summer, my project would have centered around these very diaries! Alas, again, it was not to be. So if anyone in England, near Winchester, wants to pop in, take a look, and tell readers what is or is not listed in these diaries — feel free to comment.
Lady Cunliffe was still alive (died in fall, 1814); and she knew Sir Joshua Reynolds — was painted by him even. She probably visited the exhibition, but so far very little written by her is known to exist. The Gosling/Cunliffe family was well-known to Mrs Piozzi (Hester Thrale); and she lent paintings to this exhibition! Small world…
For now, though, let’s take a viritual tour, circa 1813, in the company of Jane Austen!
I’ve written before about finding this darling miniature of Maria Smith AKA Lady Culme Seymour; but last night I took the opportunity to RELOOK at Bonhams auction site, because a letter I’ve given scant attention to actually mentions THIS VERY image!
It is the end of November, 1844; Maria and John Culme Seymour have been married since February; the visitor is Mamma Smith, and she is writing, jointly, to daughters Emma and Eliza:
“Maria sang too; she … played her part [ie, of hostess] very well; conversed with animation, was polite to all, & looked happy: she looked young & pretty, with Curls; looked quite like Ross’s picture.”
That comment alone tells me that Mamma thought the portrait a fair likeness of her youngest daughter!
As you can see, when you go to Bonhams, they have a “similar items” area in the lower right corner; in this case, other portraits done by Sir William Charles Ross, RA.
Among them is this portrait, simply described as “of a Lady”. As you know, such terminology kills me.
A sweet, yet slightly melancholy face, wouldn’t you say. The description is short: “A Lady, standing in a landscape and wearing black dress and white underslip, a pink rose at her corsage [sic?], jeweled belt, olive green shawl draped about her shoulders, her hair upswept into a knot, the front centrally parted and curled in ringlets framing her face, holding periwinkles in her right hand. Gilt-mounted within brown leather travelling case lined with velvet.” She sold for £2000 in a May 2013 auction (and was earlier sold through Christie’s, in 1979).
Who could she be??
_I_ am looking for a “missing” Ross portrait: of Fanny Seymour. Richard Seymour (who also sat to the artist in April 1836), wrote in his diary of Ross’s visit to Kinwarton on the 22nd to paint Fanny in September 1836; and on the 28th, he says:
“Mr. Ross has finished a miniature of dearest Fanny – w:h quite satisfies me – and I have just paid him £30. viz: £26..5 for the Min: and £3..15 for the frame & case, yet to come. X Giving him a £5 note and checque on Curries for £25. This piece of self indulgence will I hope be pardoned in me –“
Now compare the above to Maria, which Mamma seems to agree is a good likeness:
Not the same person, but could they be sisters? And yet compare to their Sister-in-law Frances (Seymour) Smith (Spencer Smith’s wife), another miniature by Ross dating to the mid-1830s (this a later “copy”):
While not as engaging as this slyly-smiling Frances Smith, one almost wonders a bit: Could it be her?
Ah, I mourn that the sitter of the Bonhams Ross miniature may go through life forever more as “A Lady”. If only Richard had written something about what Fanny wore, or how she was posed.
Among the preeminent cutters of silhouettes stands Auguste Edouart; and it was while searching for something completely different that I came across this wonderful little book from 1921, Ancestors in Silhouette, cut by August [sic] Edouart. Illustrative Notes and Biographical Sketches by Mrs F. Nevill Jackson. Mrs F. Nevill Jackson, as you can see, being ID’ed as Emily Jackson.
Mrs Jackson had her hands on the “duplicate” books of Edouart; it seems that when he cut a silhouette, he kept a duplicate, and ID’ed it in his sitters’ books! I was *THRILLED* to find the New York Historical Society’s “finding guide” for the Emily Jackson Photograph Collection of Édouart’s American Silhouette Portraits… until I mentally-backed-up and re-read the title: AMERICAN silhouette portraits. Oh, dear… So what has happened to her collection of Edouart’s ENGLISH Silhouette Portraits?
Why, you might ask, do I care?
While I am still combing through the list at the back of the book (I’m up to “N”), look at what I’ve uncovered:
Silhouettes by Auguste Edouart (arranged by date):
Rev. Henry Wilder, Purley Hall, Reading (London, 21 Mar 1829)
Mrs Austen, 6, Portland Place (London, 3 Apr 1829)
Rev. J.E Austen, 6, Portland Place (London, 3 Apr 1829)
Sir Charles Smith, 6, Portland Place (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Lady Smith (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Baby Miss Smith (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Miss Smith, Portland Place (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Langham Christie, Esq. No. 2, Cumberland St, Portman Sq (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Chas. Dickins, Esq. (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Lady Eliz. Dickins (London, 4 Apr 1829)
Chas. Cunliffe Smith (London, 9 Apr 1829)
Drummond Smith, Esq. (London, 9 Apr 1829)
Spencer Smith, Esq. (London, 10 Apr 1829)
Miss Gosling, 6, Portland Place (London, 10 Apr 1829) [sic: 5, Portland Place]
Chas. Wm. Christie, Esq., No. 2 Cumberland St, Portman Sq (London, 20 May 1829)
Rev. Sir John Seymour, Bart., St Peter’s Cathedral (2 ports.) (Gloucester, 1 Nov 1836)
Lady John Seymour (Gloucester, 1 Nov 1836)
Master Michael Seymour (Gloucester, 1 Nov 1836)
Henry Wilder, soon to be wed to Augusta Smith (“Miss Smith” of Portland place who sits on the 4th; they married on April 8, 1829), leads the pack, visiting Edouart in March. Mrs Austen and the Rev. J.E. Austen (id’ed incorrectly by Jackson, or else a printer’s error, as I.E. Austen), then appeared — and Emma actually notes this visit!
Just look how many visited Edouart on the following day: Charles and Mary, their baby Mimi — little Charles (“Chas. Cunliffe”) visits a few days later with his uncle Drummond; Augusta, Langham Christie, and the Dickins, another newly-married couple (February, 1829).
Charles, of all people, mentions this visit; Mary is silent about it, commenting only on the health of “baby” (Mimi) — and the acceptance of her sister Elizabeth Gosling of Langham Christie’s proposal of marriage! Yes, Langham visited Edouart on the very day he proposed! That may be why she then visits Edouart – in company with Spencer Smith, six days later.
Then, pulling up the rear, is Langham’s brother, Charles Christie.
A big gap of time, and a little activity that I simply must mention, in 1836: the family of the Rev. Sir John Seymour, bart: husband, wife and young son.
- But WHERE are these silhouettes — I’d even settle for (if such ever existed) Emily Jackson’s photographic supplements! So a brief plea here; anyone with ANY knowledge of a stash of Edouart silhouettes, please let me know. Keeping fingers crossed that I can track these images down.
What might these Edouart Silhouettes look like? _I_ presumed the typical “head”-shot…. I’ve found a few online examples:
Edouart produced silhouettes as simple as this full figure:
And yet note the elaborate background of these two solitary figures:
and silhouette groupings, such as this one:
Or, this well-populated room:
WHAT might the Smiths & Goslings and their intendeds and new husbands
have picked for their silhouettes???
I’m dying to know!
Images are EVERYTHING in a project of this sort. The stress of KNOWING items were painted, drawn, sketched… But “Where are they NOW?” is THE question. On Memoirture, Calista asked me if I had an image of Mary. Maybe? was the best answer I could give. For the famous Beechey portrait of Mary and Margaret Elizabeth Gosling seems found – and, yet, how can it be so?
The dilemma stems from the 1958 sale at auction (sold to “Leger”) of the Suttons portrait, and the acquisition of the known-Beechey by the Huntington Museum (West Virginia) occurred prior to that date.
The Gosling girls are said to be 3/4-length, seated at a piano, with music in the hand of the elder and a frill painted (for modesty, it was painted years later by that same elder sister!) along the neckline of the younger sister. All those elements are there. You can view the Early Music magazine cover here. (It’s a PDF).
Read my two earlier posts about this Beechey, “The Sisters,” Portrait:
Calista’s inquiry, however, had me looking at other Beechey female portraits; were their decolletage all that ‘on view’? I’ll leave it to you to judge for yourself that Elizabeth Christie could have had more to cover up on other Beechey portraits!
Portrait of a Girl, c1790
Harriet Beechey (undated)
Miss Elizabeth Beresford (undated)
Lady Clinton Walters (c1810)
Lady Elizabeth Cole (undated)
Portrait of a Lady (1825)
Frances Addington (c1805)
Miss Ann Lee (undated)
this last might have made Victorian-era Elizabeth Christie blush:
Miss Abernathy (undated)
A reader of Two Teens in the Time of Austen, SUSAN, has sent this photo. She adores this print — and who wouldn’t?! But she’s also curious to learn MORE about the picture.
Can other Two Teens readers help??
Of great interest is the Spencer jacket; the curled hair; the delicate gloves – one on, one off.
I am convinced — since it’s a print — that it must be based on some portrait or miniature. But by whom? Of whom?
Susan and I are all ears to hear more!