Monday, 13 June 2016

The Busts of the Earl of Pomfret and his wife at the Ashmolean

The Pair of Anonymous Marble Busts of Thomas Fermor, 2nd Lord Lempster, Earl of Pomfret and his Wife Henrietta Louisa, at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
These busts have in the past been attributed to Guelphi - the quality of these busts is so good that they could not possibly have been by him. The main reason for this attribution would appear to be the fact that Guelphi had been employed at the family country seat at Easton Neston restoring - some would say butchering the ancient Arundel Marbles.
There is no mention of these busts in the correspondence of the Countess which suggests that they were not made by a continental sculptor on their grand tour.
Thomas Fermor, Second Lord Lempster, ( - 1753)

Lord Pomfret died 8 July 1753, and was succeeded by his eldest son, George. The son's extravagance obliged him to sell the furniture of his seat at Easton Neston, Northamptonshire. His statues, which had been part of the Arundel Collection, and had been purchased by his grandfather, were bought by his mother for presentation to Oxford University. A letter of thanks, enclosed in a silver box, was presented to her by the university, 25 February 1755, and a poem in her honour was published at Oxford in the following year.

 Henrietta Louisa Fermor, nee Jeffreys, Countess of Pomfret. (1698 - 1761)


Henrietta Louisa Fermor (née Jeffreys) was born at Lisle Street, London on 15 February 1698. She was the only surviving child of John Jeffreys, 2nd Baron Jeffreys of Wem, Shropshire, by his wife, Lady Charlotte Herbert, daughter and heiress of Philip Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery (by his wife, Henriette de Kérouaille, sister of Charles II mistress Louise Dutchess of Portsmouth).
Henrietta’s father, who “is said to have exceeded even his father in his powers of drinking” (Halliday), died in 1702. Just over a year later, her mother remarried Thomas, Lord Windsor, which would provide Henrietta with five half-siblings.
On 14 July 1720 Lady Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys married Thomas Fermor, 2nd Baron Lempster who in the following year was created Earl of Pomfret. He was afterwards elected a K.B., and in September 1727 was appointed Master of Horse to Queen Caroline, to whom also Lady Pomfret was one of the Ladies of the Bedchamber.

 From there she moved from her childhood home to her new husband’s country seat at Easton Neston, Northamptonshire. The couple would not remain there long and soon moved to a London home in Hanover Square where they had their first child, Sophia, on 29 May 1721. The couple would go on to have three sons and six daughters.

Later that year, on 27 December Thomas became the first earl of Pomfret (or Pontefract), Yorkshire. Henrietta and her husband had a close relationship with the Prince and Princess of Wales, George and Caroline, and chose them to be the godparents of their first son, George. Their close relationship was further cemented when Henrietta became a Lady of the Bedchamber for Princess Caroline in May of 1725 and when her husband was promoted to KB, Knight Companion of the Order of the Bath, in 1725. The earl also became Master of the Horse for Caroline on 28 October 1727, after she became Queen. Henrietta and her husband, however, were not the only members of their family to participate in court functions. 

The painting by William Hogarth from 1732 captures Sophia, the eldest child, performing a scene from Dryden’s Performance of the Indian Emperor, or, The Conquest of Mexico for several members of the royal family, including the Duke of Cumberland, Princess Mary, and Princess Louisa.

Henrietta was also chosen to accompany Princess Amelia to Bath and Turnbridge Wells and acted as a Lady of the Bedchamber to Augusta, Princess of Wales, when she wed Frederick on 27 April 1736. These outings allowed for Henrietta and the earl to tour Leiden, Brussels, and part of the Low Countries in June and July of 1736.
On the death of the queen in November 1737, Lady Pomfret, with her friend Frances, countess of Hertford, retired from court.

In September 1738 she and her husband made a three years Grand Tour in France and Italy. At Florence, where they arrived on 20 December 1739, they were visited by Horace Walpole and Lady Mary Wortly Montague.
They soon afterwards returned to England by way of Bologna, Venice, Augsburg, Frankfort, and Brussels, reaching home in October 1741.

Henrietta Louisa Fermor, Countess of Pomfret.
Oil on Canvas.
125 x 100 cms.
Enoch Seeman
Private Collection
Thomas Fermor, Ist Earl of Pomfret.
Oil on Canvas.
123 x 98 cms.
Joseph Highmore 1692 - 1780.
Thomas Bardwell (1704 - 67).
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
oil on canvas; 216 x 124 cm
Signed: TBardwell.f.and inscribed: Thomas Farmor, Earl of Pomfret, and Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys, his Wife.
Presented by the Countess of Pomfret, 1759
Thomas Fermor succeeded as 2nd Baron Leominster in 1711 and was created Earl of Pomfret in 1721. He was Master of Horse to Queen Caroline from 1727 to 1737. He married Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys (1703-1761) in 1720.
This portrait of the couple in peer's robes may have been painted to commemorate thirty years of married life and the parchment he is handing to her would have been the marriage settlement.
After the death of her husband, Lady Pomfret bought the celebrated Arundel marbles from her dissolute son George before he could disperse them and presented them to the University of Oxford in 1755.
Around 1757, she built a large town house in Arlington Street, designed by Sanderson Miller in the Gothic style. The frame was designed for Pomfret House.
A low resolution photograph showing the Gothic Frame

For the fascinating Correspondence between Frances, Countess of Hartford, (afterwards duchess of Somerset,) and Henrietta Louisa, Countess of Pomfret, between the years 1738 and 1741 see.
Group of Framed Ivory Reliefs.
The reliefs of the Fermor Family  each 5.5 cms.
Sold Sotheby's - Lot 150 - 9 July 2009. 
This group was presumably all commissioned by Henrietta Louise Jeffreys, Countess of Pomfret (d.1761) who lived at both Easton Neston in Northamptonshire and at Pomfret Castle in Arlington Street, London. She as a celebrated bluestocking who with her husband, Lord Pomfret, toured extensively in France and Italy. She and her husband were largely responsible for the decoration and furnishing of Easton Neston after their marriage in 1720. Lady Pomfret was also Lady of the Bedchamber to Queen Caroline, the intelligent consort to George II. It was Lady Pomfret who "saved" the Arundel marbles, presenting them after her husband's death to Oxford University.

They fall into two distinct groups: those of her immediate family and those of English monarchs and writers. The former include her eldest son George, b.Viscount Lempster, later 2nd Earl of Pomfret (1722-1785); his brother the Hon. William Fermor, who died young; and their two sisters, Lady Sophia (1721- 1745) who married the 1st Earl Granville; and Lady Charlotte (1725-1813) who was Governess to George III's children and married the Hon.William Finch.
The second group include English monarchs and writers, familiar subjects from the early 18th century and can be seen in the light of similar busts that often adorned Whig houses.
This description above from Sotheby's Sale Catalogue.

Sophie and Charlotte Fermor
attrib. Enoch Seeman.

Pomfret Castle, 18 Arlington Street. St James London
Built c 1758 - Demolished 1938.
The only Gothic Revival house built in central London in the mid 18th Century.
Designed with the aid of Sanderson Miller and Sir Roger Newdigate
These photographs above from the online Country Life Picture Library.
For an in depth look at Sanderson Miller see -
The Pomfret Cabinet, see -
Wall mounted Monument to Lady Pomfret
John Townsend IV of Oxford.
St Mary's Church, Oxford.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Rysbrack Sale Catalogue - Saturday 20 April 1765


The Sale Catalogue of part of the Collection of Michael Rysbrack
Saturday, 20 April, 1765.
Held by Langford's of the Piazza, Covent Garden.
From the Original now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

Bronze Bust of Isaac Newton by Michael Rysbrack.

The Bronze Bust of Isaac Newton
by Michael Rysbrack.
Currently on display at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
on loan from Trinity College Cambridge.
Bronze Life Size Bust of Isaac Newton
After the Conduitt Bust
by Michael Rysbrack
53.3cms x 55.9 wide.
Provenance -
Lot 75, Rysbrack Sale, by Langford's of The Piazza, Covent Garden - 20 April 1765. along with lot 74, a bronze bust of Oliver Cromwell.
In the Collection of Q.V. Watney, of Cornbury Park, Charlbury, Oxford, sold Lot 7, Christies 22 May 1967 along with the bust of Cromwell.
The bust of Cromwell is a version of the Sir Edward Littleton terracotta now in the National Maritime Museum Greenwich.
Bought by Humphrey Whitbread (1912 -2000) who bequeathed it to Trinity College Cambridge.
Although the appearance of the bust of Newton, with the pendant bust of Cromwell, is first recorded with certainty in the collection of O.V. Watney, there is the tenuous possibility that it passed to him from the collection of the Earls of Portsmouth. Watney's mother, Lady Margaret, was a daughter of the 5th Earl of Portsmouth.
In the 18th Century the Portsmouths had acquired, by marriage to a great-niece of Sir Isaac Newton, Rysbrack's celebrated marble version of the bust of Newton mentioned above, along with a number of other Newton-related items . It is therefore possible that the Portsmouths had, at one time, also owned the bronze version of the bust of Newton - along with the present bust of Cromwell - and that the two passed through the family to Watney through his mother.

The images above were very kindly supplied to me by Victoria Avery of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. I am also very grateful to Tim Knox, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum for putting me in touch with Victoria Avery.
For the Rysbrack sale catalogue of 1765 see -
the next entry in this blog

Duke of Marlborough by Michael Rysbrack

Marble bust of John Churchill,
The Duke of Marlborough (1650 -1722)
By Michael Rysbrack.1694 - 1770.
Marble Bust All' Antica.
from the Collection of the Duke of Northumberland.
Sold Lot 12 Sotheby's London. 9 July 2014.
bust: 63cm., 24¾in.
socle: 30cm., 11¾
Provenance -
Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset (1662 - 1748), Northumberland House, London.
Algernon Seymour, 7th Duke of Somerset (1684 - 1750), Northumberland House, London. (By descent).
Elizabeth Percy (née Seymour), 1st Duchess of Northumberland (1716 -1776), Northumberland House, London. (By descent).
George Percy, 5th Duke of Northumberland (1778 - 1867), Syon House, Middlesex
Thence by descent.
Inscribed to the front of the socle: IOHANNES / DUX MARLBURIENSIS / S.R. Imperij Princeps &c / Angliae et Bataviae Libertatum / periclitantuim Assertor, / Galliae Triumphantis / Domitor et Flagellum / Germaniae ruentis Liberator / ac Tutamen. / Qui, per acerrimum Decenne Bellum /' Hostium copias Saepius aggressius, nunq: / non fudit, EorumqE oppida oppugnans / nunquam non expugnavit.
inscribed to the reverse of the socle: IOHN Duke of MARLBOROUGH / Prince of the Roman Empire, & ca. / The Rescuer of the Liberties of / ENGLAND and HOLLAND / when in most Imminent Danger, The Subduer and Scourge of FRANCE when in its Height of Power, The Deliverer and Protector of GERMANY, When at the Point of Ruin, Who through the whole course, of A Ten Years Vigorous War, In Repeated Attacks, Upon The Enemies, Armies and Continual Assaults upon their Strong Townes, Never once fail'd of Success.
Mentioned in an Inventory of Charles Duke of Somerset's Goods at Northumberland House, 23 March 1748/49 (Long Room) 'A marble Bust of his Grace the late Duke of Marlborough' (The Archives of the Duke of Northumberland at Alnwick Castle Sy.H.IV.1.c).
Katherine Eustace in the Sothebys Catalogue entry says that "it is believed to have been created before 1730, because a version was presented by Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, to Oxford University in that year; it remained in the Bodleian Library until 1926, when it was transferred to the Ashmolean Museum, where it can still be viewed today (inv. no. WA 1926.32). (see photograph below)
Significantly, that bust has the same Latin inscription on the front of the socle as the present bust, also with an English translation to the reverse. George Vertue, Rysback’s close friend, records that the sculptor made two busts of Marlborough, one of which he describes as being ‘From the Life’ (Webb, p. 95).
Four other versions are known to have been made: a marble in the National Portrait Gallery, London (inv. no. NPG 2005) (formerly in the British Museum); one formerly in the collection of the Earls of Shaftsbury at Wimborne St Giles, Dorset; and a third, formerly in Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough’s personal collection at Wimbledon House, which she left to Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin and which was tragically destroyed by fire in 1789. The fourth is the present bust from Syon House. The Ashmolean bust has long been given to Rysbrack on the basis of its firm provenance, whilst the remaining marbles have been presumed to be Workshop versions, overseen to a greater or lesser extent by the master, with the present marble being the superior of the group; Webb describes it as ‘a good one’ (Webb, op. cit., p. 95)".


The photographs above from the website of estimable dealers Tomasso Brothers of St James, London and Leeds.
The Ashmolean Marble  Bust of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough
by Michael Rysbrack.
dated 1730.
Bust of the Duke of Marlborough.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.
This version was presented by Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, to Oxford University in 1730;
it remained in the Bodleian Library until 1926.
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, studio of John Michael Rysbrack, circa 1730 - NPG 2005 - © National Portrait Gallery, London
Bust in the National Portrait Gallery.
© National Portrait Gallery, London.
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, possibly by John Closterman, after  John Riley, (circa 1685-1690) - NPG 501 - © National Portrait Gallery, London
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
possibly by John Closterman, after John Riley
oil on canvas, feigned oval, (circa 1685-1690)
29 5/8 in. x 24 3/4 in. (754 mm x 630 mm).
© National Portrait Gallery, London.
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, by John Smith, after  Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt, 1689 or after - NPG D38238 - © National Portrait Gallery, London
by John Smith, after Sir Godfrey Kneller, Bt
mezzotint, 1689 or after.
15 1/8 in. x 10 1/8 in. (384 mm x 257 mm) paper size.
© National Portrait Gallery, London.