Old Master and British Works on Paper, including Portrait Miniatures from the Pohl-Ströher Collection

Old Master and British Works on Paper, including Portrait Miniatures from the Pohl-Ströher Collection

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 204. Portrait of Mrs Townley and her son.

John Downman, A.R.A.

Portrait of Mrs Townley and her son

Lot Closed

December 4, 05:24 PM GMT


4,000 - 6,000 GBP

Lot Details


John Downman, A.R.A.

Ruabon, N. Wales 1750 - 1824 Wrexham

Portrait of Mrs Townley and her son

Black chalk and stump with watercolour;

signed with the artist's initals and dated on the original mount lower left: JD 1812, inscribed lower right: Mrs Townley and Son London

304 by 237 mm.

With M. Knoedler & Co., New York;
Mrs William M. Greve, U.S.A.;
sale executor's sale, London, Christie's, 8 June 1976, lot 86;
Mr and Mrs W. A. Rappolt;
their executor's sale, London, Sotheby's, 26 November, 1998, lot 7;
with Judy and Brian Harden Portrait Miniatures
G.C. Williamson; John Downman, his life and works, 1907, sketch for the finished portrait (collection of Mrs Maitland), p. 44

Born in Ruabon, North Wales, John Downman was the son of Francis Downman, an attorney and Charlotte Goodend, the daugther of the private secretary to George I. He moved to London at the age of seventeen, becoming a pupil of the American painter Benjamin West and subsequently one of the first thirty-six students to enrol at the Royal Academy School in 1769. He first exhibited at the R.A. in 1770 before a tour of Italy with Joseph Wright of Derby from 1773-1775.

On his return, he worked for periods in Cambridge and Exeter before returning to London in 1779. He quickly acquired a reputation as one of the most fashionable portraitists of the period and his sitters included members of the Royal Family, the Duchesses of Devonshire and Richard and actresses such as Mrs Siddons and Miss Farren. His portraits were 'universally admired & sought after by the first people of rank and taste'1 He continued to work successfully and exhibit in London until 1819 when he retired to Chester and then Wrexham.

The present portrait dates to 1812 and although the identity of the sitters 'Mrs Townley and son' is unconfirmed, there is a possibility that they may be linked to the celibrated antiquarian Charles Townley (1737-1805), whose collection of antiquites, known as the 'Townley Marbles', were - from 1778 - housed at Park Street, London. 

1. The Morning Post, 4 May 1784