- Henri Gascars
- Portrait of Louise Renée de Penancoët de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth and Aubigny
- oil on canvas, oval, in a British Rococo frame
Catalogue of the Pictures at Hagley Hall, 1900, no. 136
by H. Gascars, c.1675
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
This most seductive and charming, but until recently untraced painting, depicts Louise de Kéroualle, suo jure Duchess of Portsmouth and suo jure Duchess of Aubigny. She was the second daughter of Guillaume de Penancoët (d. 1690), Count of Kéroualle, and his wife, Marie-Anne (d. 1709), daughter of Sebastien de Ploeuc, Marquess of Timeur and of Kergolay, and his wife Marie de Rieux.
Later famed as the favourite mistress of Charles II, she had arrived in England in 1670, having been appointed maid of honour to Charles's Queen, Katherine of Braganza, and quickly made an impression at court. It is thought that it was during the convening of the court at Newmarket in October 1671, when Louise was staying at Euston with Lord Arlington, that she first attracted the King's eye. Some ten months later, on 29th July 1672, she gave birth to her only son by him, Charles Lennox, Earl of March and Duke of Richmond. She was soon established as the King's chief mistress and confirmed in this position on 19th August 1673 when she was created Baroness Petersfield, Countess of Fareham and Duchess of Portsmouth. She was pre-deceased by her son Charles and thus, upon her death in 1734, was succeeded by her grandson, the 2nd Duke of Richmond.
Noted during her lifetime for the ostentation of her apartments at Whitehall (which the diarist John Evelyn described as 'luxuriously furnished and with ten times the richness and glory beyond the Queene's [sic]') and her magnificent hospitality. She entertained lavishly whilst at the same time playing an important part as an intermediary between the king and the many factions at court.
The present picture, painted by the Duchess's favoured artist, depicts Louise lounging on a day bed, her opulent yet open garment suggesting an intimacy which is heightened by the horizontal format and oval surround. The painting recalls images of the reclining Venus, first proposed by Giorgione and Titian, while the composition skilfully plays with concepts of informality, privacy and voyeurism. The overtly sexual connotations of the image are emphasised through the motif of the King Charles spaniel closely fondled in her lap.