The Misses Wyndham

Charles, (school) Jervas

Oil on canvas

1727
  • About the work
    Location
    Country: Japan
    City: Tokyo
    Place: British Embassy
    This is a portrait of Catherine and Elizabeth Wyndham, the two daughters of Tory leader Sir William Wyndham (c.1688–1740) and his first wife Catherine Seymour (died 1731). The date inscribed on the portrait is 1727, when the girls would have been in their early to mid teens. This picture is a typical example of an early 18th- century English portrait depicting landed gentry. Shown in an English landscape, almost certainly intended to represent the family’s country estate, the sitters are dressed as miniature adults. Catherine’s gesture of plucking roses for her sister to collect in her lap can be understood as a visual reference to ‘Gather ye rosebuds while ye may’. This is the opening line of the popular poem and song To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, written by the English poet Robert Herrick (1591–1674), which encourages the reader to ‘seize the day’. In 1734, seven years after this portrait was painted, Catherine died young and unmarried. In 1749 her younger sister Elizabeth married British Whig statesman and future Prime Minister George Grenville (1712–1770), by whom she had seven children. Her eldest son was George Nugent-Temple-Grenville, first Marquess of Buckingham, who inherited the estate of Stowe in Buckinghamshire (where this portrait once hung). Her fifth child was Prime Minister William Wyndham Grenville (1759–1834) and one of her granddaughters, Catherine Glynne (1812–1900), married another Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone (1809–1898). Elizabeth herself died in Buckinghamshire on 5 December 1769.
  • About the artist
    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.
  • Explore
    People
    Wyndham, CatherineGrenville, Elizabeth (née Wyndham)
    Places
    Materials & Techniques
    canvas, oil, oil painting
  • Details
    Title
    The Misses Wyndham
    Date
    1727
    Medium
    Oil on canvas
    Dimensions
    height: 142.50 cm, width: 137.00 cm
    Acquisition
    Purchased from Appleby Bros, May 1951
    Inscription
    bl: MISS KATHERINE WYNDHAM / MISS ELIZABETH WYNDHAM. / 1727
    Provenance
    Collection of the Duke of Buckingham and Chandos of Stowe House, Buckinghamshire, and by 1838 on display in 'The Wyndham Dressing Room' at Stowe; by whom sold through Christie's at Stowe, Buckingham, 'Contents of Stowe House' sale, on 13 September 1848 (Lot 188), as 'Katherine and Elizabeth Wyndham', for £12.12.0; from which sale purchased by 'Morant'; with Appleby Bros.; from whom purchased by the Ministry of Works in May 1951, as by Joseph Highmore
    GAC number
    1306