Make Mine a “Kit Kat”

August 3, 2013 at 12:37 am (history, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , )

No, not talking about the candy bar, but portraiture.

Have been thinking today about the Gosling portraits painted by Sir William Beechey (discussed oh-so-long ago on this post). Talk of three-quarters and half-lengths… There were all sorts of rules as to whether hands were shown, and how much of the body, all of it governing how much you paid.

You can see from the 1817 payments that three paintings (one of the two girls; separate ones of Mrs Gosling and Mr Gosling) cost the family £210.  A not-inconsiderable sum, and yet imagine the man-hours the painter put in for that sum.

Joshua Smith

Joshua Smith (detail)
by (a follower of) Thomas Phillips

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New Portraits!

July 11, 2013 at 9:43 pm (news, people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , )

While looking at the BBC “Your Paintings” website, I’ve unearthed a couple of new images, including this one of the Smiths’ cousin Spencer, Marquess of Northampton, by Thomas Phillips.

Phillips is of interest because he reportedly painted a portrait of Mrs Drummond Smith (the former Mary Cunliffe); and “the circle of Thomas Phillips” is credited with the portrait of Joshua Smith of Erle Stoke Park, which is also found on the BBC site.

Spencer’s portrait was presented to the Royal Society c1849, and was painted c1845. Other images of Spencer Compton is presented in the “portraits” page.

The other portrait find is of Thomas Gardiner Bramston, of Skreens, the father of John Bramston – who evidently proposed to Charlotte Smith, but ultimately married Clarissa Trant.

Emma’s 1831 diary mentions the death of Mr Bramston of Skreens – but offers up no details; maybe she didn’t know them. If you read the above link, you’ll learn about Mr Bramston’s parliamentary career as well as some details of his death.

*NEW* and a little more digging at the BBC unearthed four portraits — two hitherto unseen! — of Spencer Compton’s daughter, Lady Marian Alford. My favorite has been added to the “portraits” page.

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In with new / Out with old

January 13, 2013 at 12:22 am (entertainment, history, jane austen, news, people, portraits and paintings, travel) (, , , , , , )

In The Burlington Free Press a TINY notice from Vienna that the Salzburg Mozarteum authenticated a new portrait of MOZART. I don’t mention it often here, but I became a Mozart-fan after seeing (and seeing again) Amadeus. I’ve tons of books – even bought the German edition (four volumes; no commentary) of Mozart’s Correspondence AKA Mozarts Briefe – a magnificent set. I used to take the commentary out of the library (my set didn’t come complete: seven volumes). To me, this “standard” is what Austen studies needs to emulate: all the extant letters, scraps &c — ie, for the entire family; extensive commentary and indexing. Simply fabulous.

mozartwoche

Mozartwoche 2013: Coming Soon!

Looking, I found only the most shallow (repetitive) stories. There are so many questions! How do “they” know? If it’s been “centuries”, where was this portrait, who painted it? when? So much nothingness, that I link up this Washington Post story just for the curious. Still hoping to find some in-depth piece…

Part of the head-scratching for me is that another portrait has been discredited, the so-called Boy with Bird Nest. Similar questions pop into my head: why no longer thought to “be” Mozart? This question may be more easily answered. An interesting site called, what else?!, Mozart Portraits, talks about this portrait as possibly by Zoffany, and possibly a portrait of one of the three sons of Lord Bute (a theory being that Zoffany painted Bute’s boys and the nest was an ongoing motif for them). Nice collection of portraits — authentic, spurious, under consideration, and also fantasy & caricature!

Here’s my own little collection:

The Old: Boy with Nestmozart_old

mozart_newThe New: Detail

The Cute: by Liu Yemozart_ye
For a cartoon that had me LAUGHING OUT LOUD, see Pinterest.

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A Richard Seymour Sighting!

February 17, 2011 at 3:52 pm (news, people, portraits and paintings, research) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

In “conversation” over email with Charlotte Frost (see the post on her new biography of Sir William Knighton), it turned up that Ms. Frost had seen a photograph of the Rev. Richard Seymour — husband of my dear Fanny Smith — among a group of family photos!

Now, the Warwickshire Record Office has the not-very-good photo of a portrait of a young Richard (see portraits page), but can you imagine: seeing, “in the flesh”, a photo of someone you only know through his words and deeds? Quite THRILLING!!!

Richard has a nice “following” in Warwickshire, thanks to the talks given by Alan Godfrey. Alan had kindly invited me to offer a talk on Fanny Smith when I was in England in 2007. Seems a lifetime ago. We had a great turnout that Friday evening — thanks in no small part to Alan’s organization skills. I was able to have in hand a drawing of dear Fanny, probably done by her eldest sister Augusta, but maybe done by her sister Emma. This was done when Fanny was in her 20s and reminds me of the work of Mrs Carpenter — very likely, as that artist was commissioned for a number of pieces in the Smith family, which means the girls had the opportunity to watch her work, as well as study her methods.

By the way, Richard is described by Ms. Frost as “a man in his 60s, seated at a desk”. How wonderful if the same holding turns up a picture of … Fanny!

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Dearest Aunt…

January 11, 2011 at 11:26 am (people, portraits and paintings) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Emma, writing to Aunt (Mrs Judith Smith, sister to Emma’s deceased father Charles), 10 Oct 1831:

“Our party here is very tiny only four; five I ought to say for Miss Corbaux is still with us – She has made a most charming water colored drawing of Mamma for me which is (Aunt Northampton says) amazingly like. She is seated on a Sofa in a black velvet gown with her hands crossed and her head rather on one side in a reflecting mood & so much like the attitude of the head in yr picture that it must be characteristic of her – The maids think it so much like [Missis?] sitting at Prayers. Then Miss Corbaux has taken a drawing of Miss Ashley for Charlotte which is very nearly as like as Mamma’s – I am going to indulge myself with having a likeness of Edward taken as the one by Mrs. Carpenter is not satisfactory – The children we do not mean to have taken considering it too great an extravagance…”

Can’t you just SEE Mamma: her dress, her demeanor, her attitude and look: oh, what’s happened to this drawing?!

I will post later some information on the artist.

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