A young woman reclines in the grounds of an impressive estate. Her red dress and pale pink skin form a striking contrast to the cool, dark colours of the landscape around her.
The identity of the sitter in this work is uncertain. When the portrait was sold through Christie's in 1976 it was titled 'Portrait of a Lady, possibly Elizabeth, Duchess of Bridgewater'. The catalogue entry went on to explain that the work was '...previously called Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough. There is a portrait of the sitter in a white satin dress at Woburn Abbey (no. 203) and another at Blenheim called Lady Anne Chuchill.'
Charles Jervas, portrait painter, was born in Dublin. He moved to London in the mid 1690s, where he studied under Sir Godfrey Kneller. In 1698, he travelled to Paris to study in the Louvre and then on to Rome, where he copied antique statuary and paintings by the Italian Masters. He also purchased art on behalf of English collectors. Jervas returned to London in 1709 and established a successful career painting portraits. In 1723 he succeeded Kneller as Principal Painter to King George I and later to George II. Jervas had literary ambitions and published translations of ‘Novella di Belfagor’ by Machiavelli in 1719 and Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote’ in 1742.
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough (1660-1744) [?] politician and courtier; wife of 1st Duke of Marlborough
Oil on canvas
height: 135.50 cm, width: 156.00 cm
Purchased from Christie's, 18 June 1976
Collection of the Right Honourable John Francis Granville Scrope, Earl of Ellesmere, of Bridgewater House, Cleveland Square, St James's, London (and on loan to the Ministry of Works from 1961); sold by the trustees of the Ellesmere 1939 Settlement through Christie's, London, 'Important English Pictures' sale, on 18 June 1976 (Lot 117), as 'Portrait of a Lady, possibly Elizabeth, Duchess of Bridgewater'; from which sale purchased by the Department of the Environment
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