6
6
Robert Fagan
(1761-1816)
PORTRAIT OF APPOLLONIA LANGDALE, LADY CLIFFORD (1755-1815)
Estimate
100,000150,000
JUMP TO LOT
6
Robert Fagan
(1761-1816)
PORTRAIT OF APPOLLONIA LANGDALE, LADY CLIFFORD (1755-1815)
Estimate
100,000150,000
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

The Irish Sale

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Robert Fagan
(1761-1816)
1761 - 1816
PORTRAIT OF APPOLLONIA LANGDALE, LADY CLIFFORD (1755-1815)
Full length, seated, wearing a white dress and blue sash on a Klismos chair on a logia overlooking the Colosseum
Signed l.r.: Robert FAGAN ROMA: 1791, and l.l. with identifying inscription
Oil on canvas, in a contemporary Roman carved gilt frame
226 by 149.5 cm., 89 by 58¾in.
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Provenance

By descent from the sitter to her sister Mary, daughter of Marmaduke, 5th Lord Langdale of Holme, and wife of Charles, 17th Baron Stourton;
Charles Stourton, her son, who assumed the name of Langdale and inherited Houghton Hall, Yorkshire;
Thence by descent at Houghton Hall until acquired by the present owner

Exhibited

York City Art Gallery, Masterpieces from Yorkshire Houses, 1994 no. 43

Literature

Manuscript letter from Christopher Hewetson, 14th May 1791;
Manuscript letter from Charles Grignion to George Cumberland, 14th May 1791 (British Library, Cumberland Papers);
Manuscript letter from Charles Grignion, 16th November 1791 (British Library, Cumberland Papers);
Arthur Oswald, 'Houghton Hall, Yorkshire II', Country Life, 30th December 1963, p. 1785, illus. fig. 4 (when on the staircase);
A. Crookshank and the Knight of Glin, Irish Portraits 1660-1860, exhibition catalogue, 1969, pp. 64-5 (as untraced);
R. Trevelyan, 'Robert Fagan an Irish Bohemian in Italy', Apollo, Vol. XCVI, October 1972, p. 299, (as untraced);
John Ingamells, A Dictionary of British and Irish Travellers in Italy, 1701-1880, 1997, p. 219;
Nicola Figgis and Brendan Roones, Irish Paintings in the National Gallery of Ireland, 2001, Vol. 1, p. 139, note 13 

Catalogue Note

Painted in the tradition of earlier artists of the Grand Tour such as Batoni, this beautiful portrait shows the influence of several painters working in Rome in the 1790's, notably Angelica Kauffman who had settled there in 1782 and produced fashionable full length portraits of British visitors such as Lord Lambton. Fagan's portrait depicts the elegant Appollonia Clifford in fashionable costume and seated on a Klismos chair. Beyond her can be seen the Colosseum, one of the most admired buildings of ancient Rome.

The sitter was the youngest of three daughters of Marmaduke, 5th Baron Langdale of Holme and his wife Constantina, daughter of Sir John Smythe Bt. of Eshe, County Durham . At the age of twenty-five she married Hugh Clifford in Bath in 1780, and three years later her husband succeeded his father to become 5th Baron Clifford of Chudleigh. Lord Clifford had travelled to Italy in 1787, and was recorded as in Venice in July of that year. In 1790 he returned with his wife. They were in Venice in September and by November had moved to Rome. In 1791 they left Rome to visit Ischia in April, Castel Gandolfo in June (where they were guests of Thomas Jenkins) and Naples for four months returning to Rome in November. Lady Clifford sat to Fagan in 1791, early on in her time in Italy, the choice being probably made through the link of the recusant families of Clifford and Langdale with local Catholics amongst whom the artist Robert Fagan was an active member. According to Charles Grignion, Appollonia Clifford was "disposed to do all in her power to advance his interest", and she recommended her friend Maria Villiers to sit to him (her sittings began in June 1791).

The picture is the earliest surviving portait by Robert Fagan, the colourful son of a London baker from Cork who always remained proud of his Irish links. Fagan's first visit to Rome was in 1781 at the age of twenty. After training at the Royal Academy he returned in 1784, and remained in Italy for the rest of his life. His wide career encompassed that of a portrait painter in the neo-classical tradition, an archaeologist at Laurentum, Ostia and in Sicily, and a dealer in antiquities and paintings. Taking full advantage of the sales resulting from Napoleon's invasion of June 1796, he acted for such great collectors as Frederick Harvey, 4th Earl of Bristol. His greatest coup was the acquisition of the celebrated pair of landscapes by Claude owned by Prince Altieri which he brought out of Rome and sold to William Beckford. His fame led him to become confidant to Queen Maria Caroline of Naples and Consul General for Sicily and Malta.

Fagan's portrait is recorded favourably in two letters written to George Cumberland by the Irish sculptor Christopher Hewetson and the painter Charles Grignion. Hewetson writes on 14th May 1791 that the artist was "about a whole length of Lady Clifford & is likely to succeed in it". Grignion reported on 16th November that "Fagan had completed Lady Clifford's portrait some time since ... it has given much satisfaction". The portrait has a confidence and assurance which foreshadows such later masterpieces as Sir Corbet Corbet, his wife and dogs, as well as his attractive portraits of his two wives.

The Irish Sale

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