The Reverend Seymour Leeke is depicted in a blue coat, with a white satin flowered waistcoat beneath. He wears bright yellow breeches and striped white stockings. He also wears a gown and holds a college cap with a gold tassel. Lying at his feet is a greyhound.
Seymour Leeke was the son of Nicholas Leeke of Sutton Hall and grandson of Nicholas, fourth Earl of Scarsdale. His uncle died in 1747, his father in 1760 and his elder brother, Henry, at the Battle of Fort Washington in 1776. As a result, Leeke inherited the remaining fortune of the Earls of Scarsdale and the Yaxley Hall estate.
This portrait was painted when Leeke was a student at St Peter’s College, Cambridge, and includes his college cap and gown. Although he was subsequently ordained, there is no record of him being appointed a curate. In 1773 he married Mary Rant, daughter of Humphrey Rant of Dickleburgh, Norfolk. The couple separated after a month and Mary retuned to Dickleburgh. Later that year Leeke made a tour of France and Belgium. By October 1778 he had purchased the Manor of Groton, Suffolk, which he retained until c.1784. On Boxing Day, 1785, he moved to Great Queen Street, London, where he died.
John Sanders senior exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1771. He produced mainly pastel portraits and worked in London, Norwich and Stourbridge, Worcestershire. John Hodges Benwell is thought to have been his pupil. In 1780 Sanders moved from London to Norwich, announcing his ‘return’ in the ‘Norfolk Chronicle’. The notice suggests his career was waning. He had purchased the collection of late friend George Ward, including works by da Vinci, Rubens and Tintoretto; now for sale. He was also available for historical drawings, ornamental designs painted onto stairs, ceilings or halls, and ‘every other kind of business belonging to the Arts of Design, or Historical and Portrait Painting.’ His son, John Sanders junior, became a portrait painter.
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