1st Dragoon Guard

THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH R.A. (1727-1788)

Dimensions

Height - 25.25inch (64.13cm)
Width - 22.00inch (55.88cm)
Framed Height - 32.75inch (83.18cm)
Framed Width - 29.25inch (74.29cm)

Description

1st Dragoon Guard
THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH

Period

1756

Literature

PORTRAIT OF AN OFFICER OF THE 1ST DRAGOON GUARDS

THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH, R.A. (1727 – 1788)


Oil on canvas, feigned oval 25¼ x 22 inches (64.1 x 55.9 cm)
Framed 32 ¾ x 29 ¼ inches (83.2 x 74.3 cm)

Inscribed and dated TG 1756 (lower right)

Provenance:
Howes sale, Christie’s, London, 24th March 1865, lot 120 (bought by Closs);
Anon. sale, Christie’s, London, 30th January 1897, lot 102 (bought by Gooden);
With Stephen T. Gooden, 57, Pall Mall, London, after January 1897;
Mrs. A. Cooper;
Anon. sale, Christie’s 13th March 1936, lot 52 (bought by Mrs. Sykes);
With Newhouse Galleries, New York, from whom bought by Mary Roberts Rinehart on 22nd December 1936 for $4,590;
By descent to her great granddaughter, by whom sold, Christie’s, New York, Important Old Master Paintings, Part II, 6th April 2006, lot 285, illustrated ($132,000);
Private Collection, United Kingdom.

Literature:
Algernon Graves F.S.A. Art Sales (London, 1918-21, 3 Volumes) Volume 1,
page 325;
E. K. Waterhouse ‘Preliminary Check List of Portraits by Thomas Gainsborough’ in The Walpole Society, Volume XXXIII (Oxford, 1953), pages 104, 105 and 118;
E. K Waterhouse Gainsborough (London, Edward Hulton Limited, 1958) page 100,
no. 765, plate 26;
Hugh Belsey Thomas Gainsborough: A Country Life (Munich, Prestel-Verlag, 2002) page 64, as a ‘lost’ work.

This delightfully direct and faithful representation of an officer of the 1st Dragoon Guards is an extremely rare example of a signed and dated portrait from Gainsborough’s Ipswich period. The sitter has been traditionally identified as Philip Thicknesse, a friend and key patron of the artist at the time.
Waterhouse and Hugh Belsey do not accept this identification however, on the basis of a miniature of Thickness by Nathaniel Hone in the NPG.

The 1st Dragoon Guards were stationed at Landguard Fort, and at least one other officer from the Regiment, the Hon. Charles Hamilton, sat to Gainsborough for a comparable bust-length portrait in a feigned oval (ex Richard L. Feigen, New York; Belsey, op.cit., page 64, illus., fig. 43). Hamilton wears precisely the same uniform as that seen in the present work.

The monogram and date on the present work, unusual in the artist’s oeuvre and particularly so in his Ipswich period, can perhaps be interpreted as him wishing to put a personal stamp on his relationship with the sitter, beyond that of an ordinary commission.

This early provenance of this portrait has been confused with that of another portrait, formerly Portrait of Philip Thicknesse by Thomas Gainsborough (and accepted by Waterhouse as such) but now re-titled Portrait of a Gentleman, with the figure, reclining full-length, painted by Francis Hayman and the landscape background by Gainsborough (oil on canvas, 25 x 30⅛ in., St. Louis Art Museum).

A third portrait of man in blue (oil on canvas, 30 x 25 in.) referred to by Walter Armstrong (in Gainsborough and his Place in English Art, London, Heinemann, 1898), and formerly in the collection of Sir Cuthbert Quilter, has been associated with Philip Thicknesse, but is discounted as such by Waterhouse.

As an officer of the 1st Dragoon Guards the sitter must have used the same opportunity as Col. Charles Hamilton to sit to Gainsborough when his Troop were stationed in Ipswich between April 1755 and September 1756.
The army list for 1756 includes the following Captains in the regiment, John Richardson, Sandy Mill, Henry Devic and William Page,so our sitter is presumably one of them.


   
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