Lot 17
  • 17

English School

10,000 - 15,000 GBP
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  • English School
  • Historical Portraits of Richard Bertie (1517-1582); and his wife, Catherine, Baroness Willoughby de Ersby (c.1530-1580)
  • a pair, he inscribed lower right: RICHARD BERTIE. / NATUS . Anno. 1518. / Who marryed ye / DVCHESS of / Suffolk;
    She inscribed, lower right: CATHARINE. DVCs... / of Suffolk Nata. A... / 1520
  • oil on canvas
  • each 230 by 122 cm., 90 1/2 by 48 in.
both full length, standing, he wearing brown doublet and hose, she wearing a fur lined cloak, holding a book


Probably commissioned by Sir William Courtenay, 2nd Bt. (1675-1735).


Anon, An Inventory of the Effects at Powderham Castle in the County of Devon directed by the Will & codicil of the Rt. Hon. William the 9th Earl of Devon to be preserved as heirlooms, November 1835 (Earl of Devon's archive, Powederham Castle, I/1/1/11);
'Powderham Castle', Country Life, April 4th 1908, Vol. XXIII, p. 491 (illustrated hanging in the Dining Hall)


STRUCTURE Both canvases appear to be unlined. Both canvases have been extended along the upper and lower horizontal, as well as on the left hand side. PAINT SURFACE To him: In general the pigments are stable though there is some flaking, predominantly in the upper and lower canvas additiones, and there is also some rubbing to the pigments overall. There is a thick layer of surface dirt and discoloured varnish, as well as some watermarks in the upper left of the canvas, all of which will respond well to cleaning. To her: There appears to be no concern of flaking, though there is a fine and even craquelure overall. There is some minor bitumen separation evident in the background, to the left of the canvas, as well as a thick layer of surface dirt and old, discoloured varnish which will equally respond well to cleaning. Both paintings would experience a dramatic improvement to the colour of the pigment and the condition of the paint overall if professionally conserved. FRAME Both held in matching, carved and gilded, Neo Classical style wooden frames.
"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.

Catalogue Note

The present paintings are memorial portraits, presumably commissioned by Sir William Courtenay, 2nd Bt. and his wife Lady Anne Bertie of her principal ancestors. They are typical of the aspirations of the age when it was quite common to order pictures of one's ancestors if no other images of them existed. The only known contemporary portrait of Richard Bertie is a half length painting by an unknown sixteenth century English artist in the Ancaster collection at Grimsthorpe Castle, which is inscribed with the identity of the sitter upper left, as well as with his motto.

Richard Bertie was the founder of the wealth and power of the Bertie line (his father having been a master mason). This talented son joined the household of Sir Thomas Wriothesley, where he rapidly rose to prominence and became Gentleman Usher to Katherine, Duchess of Suffolk, the wife of Charles Brandon 1st Duke of Suffolk. She was Brandon's fourth wife –– his third having been Henry VIII's sister, Mary Tudor (1496-1533). Katherine was also Lady Willoughby De Eresby in her own right. On the Duke of Suffolk's death in 1553, Richard Bertie married the Duchess. Bertie and his wife were ardent Protestants and moved to Wessel in Germany to avoid persecution following the accession of Queen Mary, only returning to England after her death. Their son Peregrine inherited his mother's title, becoming Lord Willoughby De Eresby in 1573. His son became the 1st Earl of Lindsey in 1626.