This portrait is a three-quarter length version of the full-length original, from the sitter's collection, painted in 1740 and now in the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. Many other versions exist, including two in the Government Art Collection.
Although records at the Government Art Collection suggest this portrait might have been purchased in 1946, a similar work is known to have been in Downing Street throughout much of the 19th century. It may be that this is in fact one of the six works in the 'Downing Street Collection', which can be seen in late victorian prints showing the Cabinet Room at 10 Downing Street.
Jean Baptiste van Loo was born in Aix-en-Provence to a family of Flemish painters. He worked in the south of France until 1714, when he travelled to northern Italy and Rome, and settled in Paris in 1720. While in Paris, he established himself as a portrait painter in the circle of the Regent, Philippe d'Orléans, and also painted a portrait of Louis XV. In 1731, he became a member of the Académie Royale. In 1737, van Loo moved to England, where he was patronised by Prime Minister Robert Walpole. In 1742, after a year’s ill-health, van Loo returned to Aix and his later life was divided between Paris and Aix. Today, his works are in the collections of the National Portrait Gallery, London; the Louvre, Paris; and the Hermitage, St. Petersburg.
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