Sir Joshua Reynolds (British, 1723-1792)
Portrait of Mrs. Elizabeth Field, ca. 1744 or 1748
Unsigned, identified on a handwritten partial label affixed to the stretcher.
Oil on canvas, 30 1/2 x 25 1/2 in. (77.5 x 64.8 cm), framed.
Condition: Scattered retouch, area of lifting l.l., abrasions, craquelure, surface grime.
Provenance: Painted for Reverend Joshua Reynolds (paternal uncle and godfather of the artist); to Mrs. Elizabeth Field, the sitter; to Very Reverend Joseph Palmer, Dean of Cashel; to Colonel John Palmer of Torrington, his son; to Sir Robert Edgcumbe, his cousin; Christie's 1846 (lot 115) to E.R. Pearce, Esq.; Peregrine Fairfax, c. 1963; anonymous sale, Sotheby's 28 Oct. 1964 (90); anonymous sale Sotheby's 2 Feb. 1966 (lot 143); purchased by current owner in 1966 from the Fulton Art Gallery & Picture Framing Co., New York City.
Exhibitions: Grosvenor Gallery, 1883-1884, no. 195, as Mrs. Field...painted 1748.
Literature: William Cotton, London: Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts, 1856, p. 60, 272; Algernon Graves and William Vine Cronin, Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., London: Published by subscription for the Proprietors by Henry Grames and Co. Ltd. Vol. I, pp. 301-302, illustrated p. 16.; Waterhouse, 1968, 165. David Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, no. 605, p. 186. A.L. Baldry, Sir Joshua Reynolds, London: George Newnes, Ltd., 1903, p. xxxix.
N.B. "Mrs." Elizabeth Field was the sister-in-law of the Reverend Joshua Reynolds, paternal uncle and godfather of the painter, Sir Joshua Reynolds. Although a maiden lady, the sitter was referenced as "Mrs." as was customary in the era. The portrait is described in very complimentary terms by William Cotton, who wrote, "There is also in Captain Palmer's possession at Torrington a very beautiful portrait of Mrs. Field, the sister in law of the Rev. J. Reynolds (Sir Joshua's uncle), which must have been painted before he went to Italy. The carnations are of great delicacy and clearness, and the gestures well defined, although not so strongly pronounced by means of that depth of shadow which he afterwards adopted from the works of Titian and other Italian masters." (1) There is some discrepancy among scholars as to the exact date of the portrait. Graves and Cronin dated the painting to 1748, while Ellis Waterhouse dated it to 1744, and the earlier date is suggested also by David Mannings (c. 1744) in the catalogue raisonné. (2)
(1) William Cotton. M.A., Sir Joshua Reynolds and his Works, Longman, Brown, Green, Longmans, and Roberts and Paul & Dominic Colnaghi & Co., London, 1856. p. 60.
(2) David Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, A Complete Catalogue of his Paintings, Yale University Press, New Haven, Connecticut, 2000, p. 186 (cat. 605).
Hand-written partial label (1 1/2 x 8 in.) on the stretcher reads " 'Mrs.' Elizabeth Field sister of Mary Field wife of/Joshua Reynolds, Rector of Stoke Charity Hants. Painted by/Sir Joshua Reynolds. Given ...[me] by Lieut. Col. John ...mer [Palmer] who received it /from his father the Dean of Cashel Joseph Palmer my great uncle. Robert P Edg...[Edgcumbe]"
There is a partial label (1 x 1 1/2 in.) on the stretcher that reads, "Colnl/...almer" The remmants of the first letter suggest a P for Palmer, however the label is torn in that area.
The back on the canvas is inscribed in chalk "106" and very faintly perhaps in pencil or ink "...2" u.l.
With a label from James Bourlet & Sons, Ltd., London, on the stretcher bearing the number "A46711."
Condition: Triangular-shaped area of lifting, 1/2 x 3/4 in. l.l. Minor paint losses along the lower edge. Abrasion with some paint loss, about 2 inches overall, l.r. Paint loss along right and top edges from old frame liner.