Luxborough House in Essex was built in 1722 for Robert Knight, Cashier of the South Sea Company. After the company collapsed, the house was seized and later bought by Sir Joseph Eyles, before being bought back by Knight in 1740. After Knight’s death in 1744, his son was created Baron Luxborough and Earl of Catherlough. However, by 1770 the house was the seat of Sir Edward Walpole (son of former Prime Minister Sir Robert), who later sold it to Edward Peach. In 1782 Luxborough House was bought by Lady Ruth Hughes, wife of naval officer Sir Edward Hughes (c.1720-1794). Sir Edward died in the house in 1794.
This work was painted in 1800, the same year that Luxborough House was demolished. A note in the ‘Ipswich Journal’ on 26 July 1800 confirms that the house had by then been sold ‘in piecemeal’, raising ‘about ten per cent above its original cost in building’. It seems likely that this painting was commissioned by Lady Hughes or a member of her family just before the house was destroyed, as a record of the building. Lady Hughes died in September that year.
Two engraved views of Luxborough, published during Sir Edward and Lady Hughes’ occupancy in 1788 and 1795, are in the Guildhall Library collection, London.
Landscape painter Theodore de Bruyn was born in Amsterdam. He studied in Antwerp under Nicolas van den Bergh (1725-1774), before moving to England in 1768 to paint decorative schemes for the Duke of Norfolk. De Bruyn joined the Royal Academy Schools as a sculptor in 1773, aged 43. However, he exhibited landscape paintings rather than sculpture at the Academy, the Society of Artists and the Free Society of Artists in London for some 20 years. As well as rustic landscapes with figures and cattle, de Bruyn painted country house views like this example and grisaille paintings of bas-relief sculpture. He died in London in 1804. He sons John (born 1764) and Henry (born 1772) both became artists, after training at the Royal Academy Schools.
Purchased from Oscar & Peter Johnson, November 1974
Collection of the Honourable William Keith Rous (1907-1983) of Worstead House, Norfolk; by whom sold through Christie's, London, on 29 June 1934, as ‘A View of Luxborough Hall, the seat of Admiral Sir Edward Hughes with shepherd and sheep in the foreground’, bought in; possibly collection of 'Tatham'; with a dealer in Portobello Market in 1937; with O. & P. Johnson; from whom purchased by the Department of the Environment in November 1974
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