- Henri Gascars
- Portrait of Jane 'Jenny' Myddelton, Mrs May (1661-1740) as a Shepherdess
- oil on canvas, held in a Baroque style frame
possibly the sitter;
by descent to her neice Miss Jenny Boden, by 1739;
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's London, 11th July 1990, lot 25
C. MacLeod and J. Alexander, Painted Ladies; Women at the Court of Charles II, 2001, p. 187
By H. Gascars c.1678
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Long mistakenly identified as a portrait of Jane Myddelton, from the similar mezzotint in the National Gallery, London (fig.1), this painting in fact represents her daughter, Jenny. Painted in c.1678 it was most probably commissioned in a bid to promote Jenny as a new mistress for Charles II and the choice of Gascars, Louise de Kéroualle, Duchess of Portsmouth's preferred painter, would support this. The Myddeton family had long depended on the generosity of Jane's lovers and royal patronage for her daughter would have further secured the family's financial security.
Depicted here in the guise of a shepherdess, her body is partially hidden behind the rock upon which she leans, rendering the composition a hybrid between an intimate head-and-shoulders portrait and a more conventional three-quarter length. Captured in her mid-teens, on the cusp of womanhood, in the hiatus between innocence and experience, the image is striking yet intimate. The sitter's face is neatly framed by her dark curls and the dense foliage above, whilst an undulating Arcadian landscape stretches into the distance.
The plot to ensnare the king evidently turned out to be fruitless for Jenny eventually married Charles May, Equerry to Mary II. In her will of dated 1739 she bequeathed 'my own picture' to a Miss Jenny Boden, quite possibly referring to the present picture.