Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Maria

The following text is from the National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977 (now out of print). For the most up to date research on the Collection, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text. This can be accessed by following the link with each portrait’s title.

In consulting the following, please note that apart from the reformatting which allows the printed catalogue to be made available on-line the text is as published in 1977. Footnotes in the original edition are given within square brackets.

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Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska (1702-35)
Granddaughter of John Sobieski, King of Poland; imprisoned at Innsbruck by the Emperor at the request of George I, escaped and married 1719, in Italy, James Francis Edward Stuart, the 'Old Pretender'. For their children, see Charles Edward Stuart, above, and York, Henry, Cardinal, below.

1262 By an unknown Italian hand, c.1719
Oil on canvas, 24 ¾ x 19 ¾ in. (629 x 502 mm) oval; dark brown eyes, long straight nose, pale complexion, powdered hair dressed with a single strand of pearls, centrepiece of black diamonds and pearls; grey silk dress, red ermine mantle held over the shoulders by a blue ribbon, pendant and brooch partly hidden by the lace of dress and mantle; plain grey background.

Acquired as a Trevisani, [1] NPG 1262 was also, at one time, given to Largillière. In the light of present knowledge neither attribution now carries conviction. A similar and superior portrait by Blanchet, signed and inscribed Roma on the back, was sold, lot 81, with companion portraits of her husband and their sons, the 'Young Pretender' and Cardinal York, the former signed and dated 1739, Christie's, 25 March 1966, from the collection of Lt-Col. G.H. Hay, Duns Castle, Berwickshire. Alexander Hay, an ancestor, was the brother of William Hay of Edington, [2] a Jacobite supporter who was apparently conducting negotiations with Blanchet, c.1738-41. [3] According to Harding, c.1804, the portrait was painted in France and sent by the sitter's husband as a gift to Hay of Drummelzier [4] but this is not borne out by the inscription. As in NPG 1262, the Blanchet appears to show Maria in Mary of Modena's pearls and the pearl-coloured gown and coiffe worn at her wedding. [5] Blanchet did not leave France until c.1728 which is too late for the costume and apparent age; the type is probably based on NPG 1262 or another like it. Other possible sources are the portrait in the Duke of Alba's collection (69) and a half length miniature sold as by Rosalba, Christie's, 7 November 1960, lot 50. [6] A number of life-size copies of the latter are known. The portrait attributed to Largillière in the collection of Mrs Colin Davy may also be connected with the group.

Condition: rubbed, particularly in the lower part of face, and neck; some retouchings now discoloured.

Collections: bought, 1900, from Eustace Greg, 82 Park Street, Mayfair.

1686 By Ottone Hamerani, 1719
Bronze medal, 1 7/8 in. (48 mm) diameter. Obverse: profile, hair dressed in classical manner with pearls and circlet, curls behind shoulder and on forehead; pearl drop earring, single strand pearl necklace, low-cut dress with drapery caught at the bosom with pearl tie; around the inner rim CLEMENTINA. M.BRITAN. FR. ET. HIB. REGINA., and bottom right, in smaller lettering: OTTO. HAMERANI. F. Reverse: riding, to left, in a chariot drawn by two horses; landscape background with Rome and the Colosseum, a ship and sun low on the horizon; inscribed, upper rim, FORTUNAM. CAVSAMQVE. SEQVOR and, lower rim, smaller lettering: DECEPTIS. CUSTODIBUS / MDCCXIX.

The medal commemorating the dramatic escape of the Princess from Innsbruck was struck after news of the marriage negotiations became known. [7] Rescued by four Irish officers, she was brought safely to Bologna and married by proxy on 9 May. [8] She went to Rome soon after and was met by James on 1 September at Montefiascone. The Hamerani attribution, at one time questioned, [9] is now confirmed by the British Museum. [10] Copper and silver strikes of NPG 1686 and medals by Hamerani commemorating the marriage and the birth of Prince Charles are in the Scottish NPG.

Condition: good.

Collections: presented, 1912, by Sir Charles Holmes; bought by him from Spinks that year.

Literature: Female Fortitude, Exemplify'd, in an impartial Narrative of the Seizure, Escape and Marriage of the Princess Clementina Sobiesky, As it was particularly set down by Mr Charles Wogan (formerly one of the Preston Prisoners) who was a chief Manager in that Whole Affair, [1722]; Martin Haile [Miss Hallé], James Francis Edward, The Old Chevalier, 1907; W.G. Blaikie Murdoch, 'Antonio David: A Contribution to Stuart Iconography', Burlington Magazine, LVI, 1930.

Iconography
Apart from the years 1725-27 when she withdrew to a convent, the main types were painted between 1719 and 1735. A portrait taken on her arrival in Italy by Trevisani and sent to James in Spain was kept by Elizabeth Farnese whose 'petit vol' was apparently approved both by James and Maria. [11] Acquired, 1848, by the Prado (2275) from Isobel Farnese and on loan since 1948 to the Spanish Embassy in Lima, Peru, the portrait is mentioned in the French translation of the 1913 museum catalogue [12] but not in 1933 or thereafter. A copy was made by David for James Murray of Stormont and others, in turn, were made from this. [13] A portrait in the Scottish NPG (886) [14] since 1918, by or after Trevisani, shows the sitter holding a fan in her left hand, her right hand resting on a table on which there is a watch and crown. Presumably painted after her marriage or possibly earlier with the crown a later addition, it remained until c.1900 in the family of the Chevalier Urquhart, a gentleman-in-waiting to Charles in Florence in 1770, [15] and then passed to the monastery of Fort Augustus; thence to the Scottish NPG. This portrait or one similar, known from the engraving by Chéreau (O'D 11) published in Paris and lettered Trinisani Romae Pinxit en 1721 might derive from the Trevisani sent to Spain. No oil exactly corresponding with the Chéreau engraving is known but a miniature, pair with her husband, was at Christie's, 15 October 1951, lot 47, from the collection of Miss Helen Carew. An engraving of the marriage ceremony by Anton Fritz after A. Massucci was published in Rome after September 1719.

A portrait by Smibert, known only from the reference in a letter from Edgar to Andrew Cockburn, [16] can be dated to 1719-20. A half length, oil on copper, bequeathed to the Bodleian Library by Dr Richard Rawlinson in 1755 is probably the portrait by Girolamo Pesci (1684-1759), twice mentioned by the donor in 1721: 'Die Martis 25 Febr. N.S. et 14 V.S. [1721]. Saw two different pictures of the chevalier and his spouse in the palace of Cardinal Gualtieri, and in the lodgings of his Maitre d'Hotel, both very ill done as well for resemblance as the beauty of the colours, much faded, afterwards saw that at full length at the house of signior Antonio David, which is inferiour to none but that done by sign. Hieronymo Peche, it is at full length with his spouse also in the same manner' . . . 'Die Jovis 3 April N.S. et 23 V.S. – This day received my picture from Signore Hieronymi Peschi, and paid him two pistols, to the single one paid formerly, and one more in earnest for a ristretto of my Lady'. [17]

The painting, for which a payment is recorded to ‘Peche for the Queen's Picture with the Princes' (i.e. Princess) in 1722, [18] now in Lord Braye's collection at Stanford Hall, Rugby, was purchased by Baroness Braye at the sale of Cardinal York's effects, Rome, 1807. A type engraved three-quarter length by P. Drevet is lettered Davide pinxit Romae [19] ; a version of the portrait is at Lambeth Palace and a variant was in the collection, 1964, of P. Maxwell Stuart. Although the dress is more elaborate, the engraving has the same face mask, reversed, as the Chéreau engraving after Trevisani. These portraits and their derivatives may well have been used as the popular image of the newly-wed Princess. J. Walton, in a letter dated 1727, mentions that Wolfgang was painting a miniature for an unknown recipient and that 'le peinte Davids le fait en grand'. [20] This may refer to the portrait mentioned by Rawlinson. David had completed a portrait of James and Maria by about April 1721. There is a record of a payment to him for a bust of the Queen, January 1723. [21]

A further type by Trevisani, a long half length similar to Scottish NPG 886, known only from engravings such as Faber junior's (O'D 6), shows Maria looking to the left and holding a rose instead of the fan. A crown is on the plinth of a column, left. A similar engraving without the crown (CS 50), although lettered Trevisani Romae Pinx. Andn: Miller Londoni fecit 1737, is probably from an earlier original. A portrait by Cosmo Alexander, in the collection of Mark Murray Threipland, Fingask Castle, and a line engraving in a draped oval, engraver and artist unknown, are of about the same period.

A type in mourning relates presumably to the year 1722 and the death of the sitter's mother. A version is at Versailles (4377) and others are in the collections of the Dowager Countess of Seafield, [22] the Duke of Hamilton, Denis Dickinson and formerly with Alexander Stuart. [23] A pastel is owned by the Earl of Mar and Kellie, Alloa House. An engraving by H. Rossi after D. Muratori in which the sitter points to a crucifix may relate to the period spent in the convent. [24] An engraving by Michael Sorelló after A. Massucci, published 1737, shows her kneeling at an altar.

None of the remaining portraits can be closely dated. The half length in the collection of Mrs Colin Davy, attributed to Largillière (see NPG 1262 above), cannot be ad vivum since the artist never went to Rome. A type, reversed and very small, engraved for the frontispiece of Parentalia Mariæ Clementinæ, 1736, and lettered P. Pannini. inv., et delin. Hieronymous Frezza sculp. Romae Sup. perm., is close to Blanchet. The oval portrait on Bracci's monument in St Peter's, Rome, and the three-quarter length miniature in the Inverness Museum probably belong to the same group.

FALSE PORTRAITS
A portrait recorded by Musgrave, 1797, in the collection of the Earl Fife, Duff House, [25] and one sold Lyon and Turnbull, Edinburgh, 4 February 1950, lot 80, in which the sitter is shown holding a miniature of her husband, are wrongly named. Both represent Augusta, Princess of Wales. Another attributed to Largillière, in the Glasgow Art Gallery, also appears to have been named on insufficient evidence. [26]

Notes
1. E. Greg, correspondence, NPG picture dossier.
2. Christie's catalogue, p.23.
3. S-W, II, p.18.
4. Harding, II, p.26.
5. Haile, p.275.
6. Christie's catalogue, p.23.
7. The strike in the B.M. not given to Hamerani, Medallic Illustrations, II, p.444 (49).
8. Haile, pp.253, 270ff.
9. Forrer, II, p.407.
10. J.C.P. Kent, verbal, 1970.
11. RA Stuart Papers, vol. 45, letter 56.
12. In 1920 catalogue described ‘Maria Leczinska, Queen of Louis XV’ by Largillière.
13. S-W, I, p.4.
14. Exh. 'Historical Portraits', Aberdeen, 1859 (56) lent by W. Pollard-Urquhart, 'NPE', 1867 (192).
15. S-W, I, p.41.
16. S-W, I, p.36; for Smibert's visit to Italy see The Notebook of John Smibert, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1969, pp.6-7.
17. Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MS, pp.296-97 and pp.337-38, quoted by kind permission of the Keeper, Department of Western MS.
18. S-W, I, p.38.
19. W.G. Blaikie Murdoch, reproduced p.202; see also Haile, opposite p.270.
20. PRO, John Walton letters, 28 June 1727.
21. S-W, I, p.5.
22. Scottish History and Life, 1902, p.165.
23. TSB, XXIV, p.52.
24. A. Lang, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, 1903, p.20.
25. BM Add MS 6392, f.38.
26. Glasgow Art Review, II, 1946, p.23.