192
192

THE PROPERTY OF THE DESCENDANTS OF THE 9TH DUKE OF PORTLAND

John Wootton
EQUESTRIAN PORTRAIT OF LADY HENRIETTA HARLEY, COUNTESS OF OXFORD AND COUNTESS MORTIMER (1694–1755) LED BY A GROOM WITH A HUNT ATTENDANT, IN A LANDSCAPE
Estimate
40,00060,000
LOT SOLD. 81,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
192

THE PROPERTY OF THE DESCENDANTS OF THE 9TH DUKE OF PORTLAND

John Wootton
EQUESTRIAN PORTRAIT OF LADY HENRIETTA HARLEY, COUNTESS OF OXFORD AND COUNTESS MORTIMER (1694–1755) LED BY A GROOM WITH A HUNT ATTENDANT, IN A LANDSCAPE
Estimate
40,00060,000
LOT SOLD. 81,250 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Old Masters Day Sale

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London

John Wootton
SNITTERFIELD, WARWICKSHIRE CIRCA 1678 - 1764 LONDON
EQUESTRIAN PORTRAIT OF LADY HENRIETTA HARLEY, COUNTESS OF OXFORD AND COUNTESS MORTIMER (1694–1755) LED BY A GROOM WITH A HUNT ATTENDANT, IN A LANDSCAPE

Provenance

Almost certainly commissioned by the sitter's husband, Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer (1689–1741), at Wimpole Hall and later Welbeck Abbey, which passed, through the sitter's daughter, to the Dukes of Portland;
Cooke Collection, Doncaster;
With Thomas Agnew & Sons Ltd, London, 1956–58;
Victor Frederick William Cavendish-Bentinck, 9th Duke of Portland (1897–1990);
Thence by descent to the present owners.

Exhibited

London, Agnews, Antique Dealers Fair, 1956.  

Catalogue Note

Lady Henrietta Harley, Countess of Oxford was the only child and heiress of John Holles (1662–1711), 1st Duke of Newcastle (2nd cr.) and his wife, Lady Margaret Cavendish, daughter of Henry Cavendish, 2nd Duke of Newcastle (1st cr.). In 1713 she married Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer, with whom she had two children: a son, Henry Cavendish Harley, who died in infancy, and a daughter, Margaret (1715–1785). As the sole surviving heir of both the Cavendish Dukes of Newcastle and the Harley Earls of Oxford, Margaret was the richest heiress in Britain and it was through her that the Cavendish family home, Welbeck Abbey, passed to the Dukes of Portland, when she married William Bentinck, 2nd Duke of Portland.   

The 2nd Earl of Oxford was possibly the greatest of Wootton's aristocratic patrons. The extraordinary scope of his intellectual and artistic interests was unparalleled in England in the eighteenth century, particularly in the encouragement he gave to English artists, architects, gardeners, men of letters and antiquarians. His wife's fortune gave him substantial financial means with which to embellish his principal seat, Wimpole Hall, and he commissioned over forty paintings from Wootton, covering a remarkable range of subjects, from life-sized horse portraits and Newmarket scenes, Arcadian landscapes and English views. One of the most prominent subjects, however, was hawking and hunting scenes, reflecting his wife's enthusiasm for the chase. Whilst her husband's interests were more scholarly, the Countess of Oxford was a prominent figure on the hunting field in the early eighteenth century and, remarkably for a woman of her generation, kept her own pack of harriers. Indeed one of Wootton's greatest hunting scenes depicts Lady Henrietta Harley hunting with her Harriers at Wimpole (Private collection) – another Oxford commission.

A number of versions of this picture exist, of which on stylistic grounds this appears to be the prime one. Another version was exhibited in the Midlands Houses exhibition in Birmingham in 1938, lent by W. R. West Esq., whilst a version was recorded in the Portland collection in the 1930s. The earliest secure provenance for the present painting is when it appeared with Agnew's at the Antique Dealers Fair in 1956, citing the Cooke Collection as provenance. Given the quality in comparison to the other known versions, however, it must surely be the prime version commissioned by the sitter's husband and have been sold out of the family at some point in the nineteenth century, possibly following the death of the 5th Duke of Portland (1800–1879), who died without issue and the title passed to a cousin.

Old Masters Day Sale

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London