SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS, P.R.A.
Plympton, Devon 1723 - 1792 London
PORTRAIT OF LADY ANNE DAWSON (1733–1769), AS DIANA
oil on canvas
unframed: 101.5 x 127 cm.; 40 x 50 in.
framed: 160 x 135 cm.; 63 x 53⅛ in.
Please note: Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.
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The painting has an old, loose lining, the paint surface is slightly dirty, and the varnish is quite thick and discoloured. Some of the pigments have bitumenised slightly in the lower part of the figure's drapery. There is also a patch of discoloured varnish in the upper left corner, perhaps where something once adhered to the surface. Inspection under ultraviolet light reveals the opaque varnish. Some retouching is visible on its surface: in an area in the background to the left of the sitter's right leg (approx. 6 x 2 cm.); fine lines to disguise the network of craquelure in her face, lower hand and white drapery; to a small area in the top of her hair; and to three small scratches, two in the dog's head and one in its body. There are also small retouchings scattered throughout the background. Older retouchings, more difficult to discern beneath the varnish, occur in the sitter's index finger of her right hand, and in some of the folds of her drapery. The painting will benefit greatly from cleaning and some attention, but is in overall fairly good condition.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
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.
Birmingham, City of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Exhibition of works by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1961, no. 15
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.