SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, P.R.A. | PORTRAIT OF THOMAS LISTER, 1ST BARON RIBBLESDALE (1752–1826)

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SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, P.R.A.
Bristol 1769 - 1830 London
PORTRAIT OF THOMAS LISTER, 1ST BARON RIBBLESDALE (1752–1826)
oil on canvas
240 by 149.2 cm.; 94½ by 58¾ in.
£210,000

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PROVENANCE
By descent from the sitter to his great-grandson, Thomas Lister, 4th Baron Ribblesdale (1854–1925);
By inheritance to his second wife, Ava Lowle Willing, Lady Ribblesdale (1868–1958);
By whom sold ('The Property of the Rt. Hon. The Lady Ribblesdale'), London, Christie's, 10 July 1953, lot 9, to Agnew for £420;
With Thomas Agnew & Sons, London;
Peter Wilson (d. 1984), London;
Private collection, England.

LITERATURE
Rev H. L. Lyster Denny, Memorials of an Ancient House, 1913, p. 148, reproduced;
Sir W. Armstrong, Lawrence, London 1913, p. 160;
K. Garlick, Lawrence, London 1954, p. 55, Appendix II, 125, IV, 173;
K. Garlick, 'A Catalogue of the paintings, drawings and pastels of Sir Thomas Lawrence', in The Walpole Society, vol. XXXIX, 1964, p. 167;
K. Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence. A complete catalogue of the paintings, Oxford 1989, p. 257, no. 674, reproduced.

EXHIBITED
London, Royal Academy, Old Masters, Winter 1904, no. 92.

CATALOGUE NOTE
The sitter was the son of Thomas Lister, of Gisburne Park, Yorkshire, and his wife Beatrix, daughter of Jessop Hulton of Hulton Park, Lancashire. Educated at Westminster and Brasenose College Oxford, he served as Member of Parliament for Clitheroe from 1773 to 1790. In 1775, at the outbreak of the American War of Independence he fitted out a frigate at his own expense which he placed at the disposal of the Government, and in 1779 fitted out a regiment of light horse called Lister’s Light Dragoons and was gazetted a Major in the army. In 1789 he married Rebecca, daughter and co-heir of Joseph Fielding, and in 1797 was created 1st Baron Ribblesdale of Gisburne.

The family seat, Gisburne Park, situated in the Ribble Valley six miles north-east of Clitheroe, was built between 1727 and 1736, the manor having been first acquired by the Lister family in 1614. The house and estate passed from father to son until the death of Thomas Lister, 4th Baron Ribblesdale in 1925. A liberal politician, and a government whip in the House of Lords under Gladstone from 1880 to 1885, and Master of the Buckhounds under both Gladstone and Rosebery, the 4th Baron was a Trustee of the National Gallery from 1909 to 1925 and is remembered today from his famous portrait by John Singer Sargent (National Gallery, London).1 His two sons having both been killed in action, the eldest in Somaliland and the younger at Gallipoli in the First World War, he was survived by two sisters and his second wife, Ava Lowle Willing, the American socialite and former wife of John Jacob Astor IV. In 1944 the remaining estate was sold, and in 1985 the house was converted into a private hospital and rehabilitation centre.

Painted circa 1805, a price of £126 is recorded in the Coutts list for this portrait. Lawrence’s executor refers in his list to ‘Ports of late Ld. & Ldy Ribblesdale abt 30 yrs since 300 Gs each2 and it seems that the painting was originally intended to be one of a pair, together with a portrait of the sitter’s wife. No full-length finished portrait of Rebecca, Lady Ribblesdale is known, however, and the pendant this picture is probably the unfinished head of Lady Ribblesdale, which has been cut down from a larger canvas, in the Ackland Art Museum, at the University of North Carolina.

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1. https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/john-singer-sargent-lord-ribblesdale
2. K. Garlick, 1989, p. 257

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