Old Master Day Sale including Old Master Paintings, Drawings and British Works on Paper

Old Master Day Sale including Old Master Paintings, Drawings and British Works on Paper

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 153. SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS, P.R.A. | PORTRAIT OF LADY ANNE DAWSON (1733–1769), AS DIANA.


Lot Closed

July 29, 12:59 PM GMT


60,000 - 80,000 GBP

Lot Details



Plympton, Devon 1723 - 1792 London


oil on canvas

unframed: 101.5 x 127 cm.; 40 x 50 in.

framed: 160 x 135 cm.; 63 x 53⅛ in.

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Commissioned by the sitter’s husband, Thomas Dawson (1725–1813), later Baron Dartrey, Baron Cremorne and 1st Viscount Cremorne;

By inheritance to his great-nephew, Richard Thomas Dawson, 2nd Baron Cremorne (1788–1827);

By descent to his son, Richard Dawson, 3rd Baron Cremorne (1817–1897), who was created 1st Earl of Dartrey in 1866;

By descent to his son, Vesey Dawson, 2nd Earl of Dartrey (1842–1920);

By inheritance, upon the death of his widow, Julia (1862–1938), to their daughter, Lady Mary Augusta Crichton (1887–1961), and held in trust for her nephew, Charles William Windham, RN (then a minor);

Thence by descent until sold, London, Christie’s, 15 April 1988, lot 127.

A. Graves and W.V. Cronin, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds P.R.A., London 1899, vol. I, p. 235;

E.K. Waterhouse, Reynolds, London 1941, pp. 38 and 120;

E.K. Waterhouse, Reynolds, London 1973, p. 17;

M. Postle, Sir Joshua Reynolds: The Subject Pictures, Cambridge 1995, p. 39;

A. Ribero, The dress worn at Masquerades in England 1730–1790, and its relation to Fancy Dress in portraiture, New York 1984, p. 176;

D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds. A complete catalogue of his paintings, New Haven and London 2000, text vol., pp. 162–63, cat. no. 494, reproduced plates vol., p. 164, fig. 102. 

The sitter was the youngest daughter of Thomas Fermor, 1st Earl of Pomfret (1698–1753) and his wife Henrietta Louisa Jeffreys (grand-daughter of the famous Judge Jeffreys). In 1754 she married Thomas Dawson, later 1st Viscount Cremorne, the eldest surviving son of Richard Dawson of Dawson Grove (now known as Dartrey Forest) in County Monaghan, and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Vesey, Archbishop of Tuam. Dawson represented County Monaghan in the Irish House of Commons and was one of the largest landowners in Ireland. She died at Castle Dawson, in 1769, and was buried at Ematris, County Monaghan. 

Painted circa 1754, Mannings suggests that the pose and costume here were perhaps inspired by Allan Ramsay’s Portrait of Lady Boyd as Diana, which was engraved by McArdell in 1749, whilst Waterhouse saw this picture as an exercise in the style of Batoni. Aileen Ribero identified the dress as masquerade costume based on that seen in seventeenth-century paintings, particularly those by Sir Peter Lely. However, Reynolds has adapted it so that the sitter’s loose gown conforms to contemporary fashion, with the addition of a wide jewelled belt, which probably belonged to the sitter, to achieve a waisted look.

The prominent Irish engraver James McArdell’s 1754 mezzotint is one of the earliest engravings after a painting by Reynolds and established the early popularity and fame of this painting. The artist revisited and adapted the composition almost a decade later in another portrait of a lady as Diana, which has mistakenly also been called Lady Anne Dawson in the past;1 and he portrayed the Duchess of Manchester in a similar costume, together with her son as Cupid, in the late 1760s.2

1 See Mannings 2000, text vol., p. 163, cat. no. 495, reproduced plates vol., fig. 495.

2 http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/207779