On the reverse of the painting is the inscription: ‘Tho: Ross Pinxt From an original Picture of Secretary Thurloe in the possession of Mrs Brace.’ It is not clear which Mrs Brace this refers to but the Brace family were descended from the sitter, John Thurloe. Anne-Maria Brace (born 1719), great granddaughter of Thurloe, married Godfrey Copley (born 1706) in 1739. Copley had inherited Sprotbrough Hall, Doncaster, built for his family in 1670, at the age of just 13. The couple had no children and divorced in 1748, after which Anne-Maria remarried. However, after she left, this early copy of the Brace family’s portrait of Thurloe remained at Sprotbrough Hall. Following the First World War, which claimed three sons of the Copley family, Robert Berwicke-Copley, fifth Baron Cromwell (no relation to Oliver Cromwell), sold the contents of Sprotbrough, including this work, through Christie’s in 1925 and the Hall itself was demolished. The site is now covered by a housing estate.
Another version of the painting is held in the National Portrait Gallery, London, and an engraved portrait of Thurloe by engraver and antiquary George Vertue was published in 1741.
Thomas Ross, portrait, landscape and decorative painter, was working in Suffolk in 1730 and may have been based in Gloucester before that date. Most of his known works are head and shoulders portraits, painted within a feigned oval. A portrait of poet and landscape gardener William Shenstone (1714-1763) by the artist is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London. Ross’s works were engraved by Philipp Audinet (1766-1837) and J. Hall.
John Thurloe (1616-1668) secretary to Oliver Cromwell and Secretary of State
Oil on canvas
height: 127.70 cm, width: 102.50 cm
Purchased from Sotheby's, 22 November 2007
cr: Sec.y Thurloe. ; verso, on fragment of canvas attached to stretcher: Tho: Ross Pinx.t / From an original Picture of / Secretary Thurloe, / in the Possession of / Mrs Brace
Collection of Anne-Maria Copley (née Brace), wife of Godfrey Copley (born 1706) of Sprotborough Hall, Doncaster; by descent to Robert Bewicke-Copley, 5th Baron Cromwell (1893-1966) of Sprotborough Hall; by whom sold through Christie's, London, on 20 November 1925 (Lot 116), as by 'Jonson', for 4 guineas; from which sale purchased by 'Moore'; sold through Sotheby's, London, on 22 November 2007 (Lot 12); from which sale purchased by the Government Art Collection
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