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Recollections of Places Past, Property from the Estate of Sir John and Lady Smith

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Circle of Charles Jervas
PORTRAIT OF A GENTLEMAN, TRADITIONALLY IDENTIFIED AS ARTHUR VANSITTART
inscribed on the sitter's cap: Love and Friendship 
half-length, in a feigned oval

oil on canvas


76cm. by 62.7cm.; 30in. by 24 5/8 in.
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來源

Nicholas Vansittart, 1st Baron Bexley (1766-1851), Foots Cray Place, Kent;
by whose Executors sold, London, Christie's, 1-4 May 1876, lot 222 (as Hogarth)

出版

A. Dobson, William Hogarth, London 1907, p. 188;
‘Shottesbrooke Park, Berks., The Seat of Mr Guy. O. Smith’, in Country Life, vol. XXXIII, no. 839, 1 February 1913, p. 166;
Inventory of the Property of Guy O. Smith at Shottesbrooke Park, 1928, vol. II, 'The Principal Pictures / Inner Hall / Arthur Vansittart By Hogarth 30 x 25';
R. Fuller, Hell-Fire Francis, London 1939, p. 94;
G. Baldini and G. Mandel, L'opera completa di Hogarth, Milan 1967, p. 116, cat. no. 1PP;
G. Ashe, The Hell-Fire Clubs: A History of Anti-Morality, Stroud 2000, p. 123

相關資料

By family tradition these three elegant portraits portray Arthur, Robert and Henry Vansittart when members of Francis Dashwood's celebrated club, called the Monks of Medmenham, later The Hellfire Club. However, the chronology does not support this. Judging from the costumes the portraits date from circa 1730, and the three brothers were born in 1726, 1728 and 1732, respectively. Furthermore, Dashwood's club was only properly formed in 1755, though meetings did take place as early as 1746 in the George and Vulture tavern.

It seems most likely that the three gentlemen were members of one of the numerous clubs which proliferated in the early years of the eighteenth century. As John Macky wrote in 1724 in his book, A Journey through England, London had 'an infinity of clubs or societies for the improvement of learning or keeping up good humour and mirth.' In his authoritative work, British Clubs and Societies 1580-1800, published in 2000, Peter Clark points to a general expansion in the number and diversity of voluntary associations during the early eighteenth century. The more serious clubs covered such diverse areas as politics, music, the visual arts, moral reform and trade. However, there were also many informal drinking clubs, some of which had a scandalous reputation. The most famous was the Hellfire Club started in 1719 by Philip Duke of Wharton, a very exclusive gathering of his aristocratic friends which mocked religious ceremonies and was brought to an end in 1721 by a bill to counteract 'horrid impieties.' There were plenty of lower profile clubs though, and Francis Dashwood and the Earl of Sandwich were said to have been members of a Hellfire Club in the 1730s.

The three gentlemen have the words 'Love and Friendship' on their caps. In his book of 1958, The Hell-Fire Club, Donald McCormick does not mention this motto as one used by Dashwood's club, but in an earlier book Hell-Fire Francis (see Literature) Ronald Fuller suggests that the members wore silver brooches with these words engraved on them. It is clear that the Vansittart brothers were members of Dashwood's club, Robert as one of the inner circle but also including Arthur and Henry (see lot 151). Stories abound about Henry's involvement, including the introduction to the Society of a copy of the Kama Sutra and of a baboon brought back from India. However, despite these links the three gentlemen shown here must have been associated with an earlier club for which this motto was used.

Recollections of Places Past, Property from the Estate of Sir John and Lady Smith

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