Lot 24
  • 24

English School, circa 1600

30,000 - 50,000 USD
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  • Double portrait of two boys, full-length standing, wearing matching green doublets and skirts, said to be children of the Poulett family of Hinton St. George, Somerset
  • oil on panel
  • 103cm by 70cm
  • 40½in by 27½in


By descent in the Poulett family, Earls Poulett, at Hinton House, Hinton St George, Somerset;
George Amias Fitzwarrine Poulett, 8th Earl Poulett (1909-1973);
By whom sold, London, Sotheby’s, 5 March 1969, lot 7 (as M. Gheeraerts), to Rutland Ltd. for £1,200;
Anonymous sale, London, Christie’s, 11 June 1999, lot 4;
With Richard Philp Gallery London;
From whom acquired by the present owners. 


C.G. Winn, The Pouletts of Hinton St. George, London 1976, p. 178;
R. Strong, The Tudor and Stuart Monarchy, vol. 2, Woodbridge 1995, p. 273 (as unknown follower of Hieronimo Custodis).


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. This work may not have been recently restored, but it seems to be clean. The original panel is made from three sections of wood joined vertically through both figures. These joins have attracted restorations. Elsewhere, there are retouches within the faces, and a not unexpected amount of retouching in the figures addressing some losses and instability. The paint layer is uneven, but there are no losses currently visible within the clothing or the figures. However, instability still continues to be an issue in the background. This is a work that should be properly consolidated and further retouched. Cleaning is not necessarily recommended. If consolidation were carefully carried out and the work kept in the right environment, it should maintain stability in the future.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

This portrait has been identified as one of a group of works by an anonymous artist whose distinct hand was first identified by Roy Strong in 1963 and categorized under the working name “Unknown follower of Hieronymous Custodis."1  More recently, Dr. Edward Town has suggested that an association with the Flemish born, but London based, Custodis is somewhat  misleading.  The pattern of this artist’s patrons and the location of many of his extant works suggest strongly that he was a provincial painter who worked in the Southwest of England from around 1590 to 1620.

At the time of the 1969 and 1999 sales (see Provenance), this portrait bore an inscription at lower right mistakenly identifying the children as two daughters of Sir Amias Poulett (d. 1588). At some point following the 1999 sale, the inscription was removed.

We are grateful to Dr. Edward Town for his assistance in cataloguing this lot.


1.  See. R. Strong, "Elizabethan Painting: An Approach through Inscriptions — II: Hieronimo Custodis," in The Burlington Magazine, CV, 1963, p. 104; and R. Strong, The English Icon: Elizabethan & Jacobean Portraiture, London 1969, p. 349 (where the Burlington article was reprinted in the Appendix.)