Horace Walpole saw this portrait when he visited Kimbolton Castle, the seat of the Dukes of Manchester, in 1763. Walpole later mentioned it in a letter to George Montagu: ‘lady Mandeville, attiring herself in her wedding garb, [is] delicious’. He described the work further in an account of his visit:
‘A Lady Mandeville, whole length, in her hair, which she is combing for her wedding. She is dressed in white satten, embroidered with birds and butterflies, her wedding-gown, a piece of which is still kept in the family. The satten~and red velvet of the table & curtain are remarkably well painted. I should think this is by Mytens.’
Gallery director George Scharf visited Kimbolton almost 100 years later in 1856, while researching works for inclusion in the Manchester ‘Art Treasures’ exhibition. Scharf was also impressed by the portrait but thought it might have been painted by artist Paul van Somer.
It was not until 2011, when a painting conservator was working on the portrait in preparation for a Government Art Collection exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery, that a faint signature was discovered just above the seat cushion. The signature confirms Walpole’s suggestion that Mytens is the artist.
Daniel Mytens, the son of a coachbuilder and saddler, was born in Delft, the Netherlands. He moved to London in the mid-1610s, to establish himself as a portrait painter. In 1624, King James I granted Mytens a pension of £50 per year and in the same year he was made a denizen of the UK. However, when Anthony van Dyck returned to London in 1632, Mytens’ career suffered a considerable blow. Van Dyck soon replaced Mytens as the favoured portraitist of Charles I and the loss of esteem apparently influenced Mytens in his decision to retire early from his painting career. He returned to the Netherlands and died in The Hague, sometime in 1647.
Lady Anne Montagu (née Rich, styled Lady Mandeville; 1604-1642), wife of Edward Montagu, 2nd Earl of Manchester (Viscount Mandeville)
Oil on canvas
height: 221.00 cm, width: 138.00 cm
Purchased from Knight, Frank and Rutley, July 1949
inscribed left above seat cushion: D. Mytens fe. a.o 1626
Collection of the Duke of Manchester of Kimbolton Castle, Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire; sold through Knight, Frank & Rutley, 'A catalogue of English period furniture, etc. at Kimbolton Castle, Kimbolton, Huntingdonshire...' sale, on 18 July 1949 (Lot 48); from which sale purchased by Leggat Bros. on behalf of the Ministry of Works in July 1949
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