A Good 18thC English School Portrait of a Lady c.1770

Origin: English School
Period: George III
Provenance: Ex Christies London, 1987
Date: c.1770-90
In Frame: 9.75 x 8.75 inches
Canvas: 7 x 5.75 inches

The well depicted oil on canvas of small proportions showing a serene lady in a black veil on a dark charcoal ground, glancing down at a text, surviving from latter half of the eighteenth century and last consigned to Christies Auction House in London in 1987.

The work has not been restored or cleaned and there are areas of wear and abrasion with a few small losses to the paint layers. She remains quite dirty with various scratches to the right of her face and to the left by her hair and there are also signs of residue of old varnish. The frame has several chips and losses but is still very attractive in its entirety.

The picture is stencilled verso ‘HD 278. This is a Christie’s Auction House stencil. Spotting a Christie’s stencil is a good indication of a work’s potential importance, and the alphanumeric cipher of the type shown here has been in use almost since Christie’s founding in 1766, originally applied to the backs of pictures with a brush, before stencilled stock numbers were introduced. Every Christie’s stock number matches a unique record in the Christie’s Archive, a legendary repository of detailed information on provenance and prices for every picture sold in the company’s almost two-and-a-half centuries.

In this case, the stencil shows us that the piece was consigned in 1987 and that HD278 was a large estate consignment (317 lots) consisting of furniture, pictures, silver etc. Some of these lots were never catalogued or placed into sale but were returned to the consignor. Several of the returned lots were pictures and the bulk of the consignment was placed into several sales throughout 1987. However this picture was not in the consignment, so we must assume it was amongst the returned batch. We have acquired this work from an Oxfordshire country house.

A picture with real serenity and peacefulness to it, and a suggestion of real quality in its composition making it estate worthy art.