MASON CHAMBERLIN, R.A. | PORTRAIT OF A FAMILY: THE MAN HOLDING A MANUSCRIPT AND SEATED BEHIND HIS WIFE, WHO WEARS AN ERMINE COAT AND HOLDS HER SLEEPING INFANT
Estimate: 20,000 - 30,000 USD
Property from a Distinguished American Collection
MASON CHAMBERLIN, R.A.
(London 1727 - 1787)
PORTRAIT OF A FAMILY: THE MAN HOLDING A MANUSCRIPT AND SEATED BEHIND HIS WIFE, WHO WEARS AN ERMINE COAT AND HOLDS HER SLEEPING INFANT
oil on canvas
49 by 40 in.; 124.5 by 101.6 cm.
The canvas appears to have been recently relined and is stable on its stretcher. An elegant portrait image reads well and the paint surface is well preserved. No areas of loss or repair are visible to the naked eye. A faint white scuff on the man’s proper left wrist and a tiny dot of white paint or foreign material on his upper arm are not distracting. Under UV inspection, an area of restoration in the background curtain from the top of the canvas to the man’s forehead is visible, along with 2 small circles to the left of the woman’s face. Finely applied lines of retouching are visible throughout the woman’s face and neck to address craquelure, as well as in her hand, throughout the drapery on her lap, on the baby’s proper right cheek, and in the papers in the man’s hand. The painting is in overall good condition and can hang as is. Offered in a decoratively carved giltwood frame.
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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
T. Grissell, Esq., Kensington, by 1864 and until at least 1867;
Anonymous sale, London, Sotheby's, 25 November 1998, lot 42 (as "Portrait of a gentleman, said to be David Garrick, and his wife and child," by Chamberlin);
Stratford-on-Avon, Town Hall, Celebration of the Tercentenary birthday of William Shakespeare, April 23, 1864, no. 211 (as "Portrait of David Garrick and his wife and child," by Sir Joshua Reynolds)
London, South Kensington Museum, National Portrait Exhibition, 2 May - 31 August 1867, no. 551 (as "Portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Garrick and child," by Reynolds)
Catalogue of Pictures and Drawings exhibited on the Town Hall, Stratford-on-Avon, at the Celebration of the Tercentenary birthday of William Shakespeare, London 1964, p. 49, no. 211 (as "Portrait of David Garrick and his wife and child," by Reynolds);
A. Graves, F.S.A. and W.V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., London 1899, vol. I, p. 352 (as not by Reynolds).
This family portrait has an interesting attribution history: within a century of its creation, it was believed to be a portrait of famed Shakespearean actor David Garrick (1717 - 1779) and his family, painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds. It was exhibited as such at both the tercentenary celebration of Shakespeare's birthday and the National Portrait Exhibition. In fact the male sitter cannot be Garrick, as he never had children, and his appearance is known through many other portraits. Instead the portrait depicts an anonymous couple with their new baby, and is much more consistent with the style of Mason Chamberlin, founding member of the Royal Academy.