Lot 9
  • 9

Henri Gascars

Estimate
10,000 - 15,000 GBP
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Description

  • Henri Gascars
  • Portrait of Jane 'Jenny' Myddelton, Mrs May (1661-1740) as a Shepherdess
  • oil on canvas, held in a Baroque style frame 

Provenance

possibly the sitter;
by descent to her neice Miss Jenny Boden, by 1739;
Anonymous sale, Sotheby's London, 11th July 1990, lot 25

Literature

C. MacLeod and J. Alexander, Painted Ladies; Women at the Court of Charles II, 2001, p. 187

ENGRAVED: 
By H. Gascars c.1678

Condition

STRUCTURE The canvas is unlined. PAINT SURFACE The painting appears to be in very good condition. There are some very minor abrasion marks at the edge of the canvas where it meets the frame. Otherwise there is no apparent damage or paint loss to the painting. ULTRAVIOLET Examination under ultraviolet light reveals scattered retouching in the background. There is however a notable lack of retouching in the face. FRAME Held in a Baroque style, carved and gilded wooden fame.
"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."

Catalogue Note

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 K√©roualle, 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.