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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue: Groups associated with the Moravian Church

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.

Contents Foreword Introduction Catalogue scope Abbreviations Arrangement of entries


624A Attributed to Johann Valentin Haidt, c.1752-54
Oil on canvas, 19 ½ x 24 1/8 in. (495 x 613 mm); from left to right, seven standing figures, two seated, dressed as follows: (1) scarlet jacket with blue cuffs, gold lace over cuirass; holding baton; (2) Quaker-like costume of drab brown hat, coat, stockings, white stock; (3) full-bottomed wig, grey coat and waistcoat; blue ribbon over his left shoulder, star, beneath; holding paper; (4) Bishop of the Eastern rite in vestments; [1] holding book (?); (5) tall dark brown fur cap, scarlet robe, brown fur edging; holding scroll; (6) grey coat; blue ribbon, his left shoulder, faint star beneath; holding paper; (7) grey coat, embroidered waistcoat; orange ribbon, his left shoulder, star beneath; holding paper; (8) full-bottomed white wig; white bands, black court dress; around the neck, gold chain with large medallion bearing portrait; handing a document (?) to the next: (9) plain brown coat. To the right, red sofa; above it, landscape painting with classical buildings, left, obelisk, right; on pink and grey tesselated floor, basket containing papers, right; curtain, left, with two scenes: above, a queen enthroned and a lady seated; below, two ladies and a man seated, another man standing behind; the queen, gentlemen, and lady seated bottom left wear blue ribbons; background opens out to formal garden with four statues standing in niches.

For discussion, seeNPG 1356 (below).

Condition:clean; pin-holes and cork marks at edges; pentimenti along the arms of no.5, behind the wig of no.6, and in the bishop's headdress which was originally pointed.

Collections:purchased, 1881, from William Ruck, Cambray Spa, Cheltenham, with NPG 624, ‘Queen Anne and the Knights of the Garter’, seePiper, p.392.

1356 Attributed to Johann Valentin Haidt, c.1752-54
Oil on canvas, 20 7/8 x 24 5/8 in. (530 x 626 mm); from left to right, ten standing figures dressed as follows: (1) black tricorne hat, dark blue coat, orange facings, cuffs, waistcoat and breeches; orange sash with cross, his left shoulder; holding papers; (2) long wig, brown coat; blue ribbon, his right shoulder, star beneath; holding paper; his left arm rests on shoulder of next: (3) plain drab coat; (4) king wearing crown, full wig, Garter collar under ermine edged scarlet robe; holding sceptre, the tip resting on document on table; (5) white wig, dark brown coat; holding book (?) (6) black tricorne hat, blue coat; orange sash over his left shoulder (no star); holding baton; (7) the same sitter and dress as no.8 in NPG 624A, the reverse of the medallion shown; (8) white wig, brown velvet coat; blue ribbon, his right shoulder; handing a letter to (10); (9) blue ermine-edged mantle; gold star, his left breast, beneath the mantle, blue ribbon, his left shoulder, and the Fleece; (10) the same sitter and dress as no.9 in NPG 624A. On the table, red cloth; pink and grey tesselated floor as in NPG 624A; behind the figures; left, green curtain drawn back; wall divided by two pairs of pink pilasters; between the pilasters, a picture of quay with boats; right, part of an exotic landscape painting with palm tree.

At some point after the second picture was purchased, NPG 624A and 1356 came to be associated with Count Nicholas von Zinzendorf and the Moravian Brotherhood. The seller of NPG 624A in a letter dated 15 February 1887 claims not to know the subject or artist, and NPG 1356 was bought as 'George and Ambassadors'. By 1906, however, both paintings were described as representing Zinzendorf. Leaders of this sect appear in few paintings [2] and there are no independent portraits of Zinzendorf for comparison.

Comparison with Haidt's other work exhibited in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1966, and especially a third group, [3] led Monroe Fabian to conclude that NPG 624A and 1356 are by Johann Valentin Haidt, the Danzig-born artist, who resided in London intermittently from 1740 to 1752 and became a member of the Moravian church. Formerly NPG 1356 had also been attributed to Abraham Louis Brandt (1717-97), who was in London after 1742; joined the Brotherhood, 1743, but went to Germany at the end of that year, and returned to London for brief periods c.1749 and after 1759.[4]

The exact date at which these pictures were painted remains speculative, but the likelihood is that they are between Haidt's return to London in July 1752 and departure to America on 13 March 1754, and were commissioned for Lindsey House, Chelsea, which Zinzendorf had just acquired as the nucleus of a proposed Moravian settlement. Haidt made a number of paintings for this house and a list of 38 pictures on the main staircase survives, [5] although neither of the NPG portraits can be identified.

The Moravian Brethren, or Unitas Fratrum,claimed descent from the reformers in Eastern Bohemia after the death in 1415 of John Huss. Persecuted and exiled, the Protestant brethren found shelter in Saxony where they built a model village at Herrnhut in 1722, and where they came under the leadership of the remarkable Nicholas von Zinzendorf, missionary, idealist, and mystic who was to be their driving force until his death in 1760. In 1735 ten Moravian missionaries were sent to Georgia, where they were granted land through the good impression made on General Oglethorpe, the Governor of Georgia, then in London. On this mission too, went the Wesley brothers, who by 1740, however, broke away from the Moravians. In 1736 Zinzendorf sent a mission to convert the negroes of South Carolina, and in 1737 he made a two-year visit to England where he was accepted by Potter, the Bishop of London; back again in England in 1741, after the celebrated breach with Wesley, Zinzendorf attempted to secure legal standing and protection for the Moravians throughout the British Empire. On 20 February 1749 Oglethorpe moved in the Commons that the Moravian colonists in America be exempt from taking oaths or bearing arms, and that the House should co-operate with the Brethren and encourage them to settle in the colonies. A committee of enquiry was appointed, and the Bill eventually passed the Commons and the Lords, despite Government opposition, on 12 May. [6]

The precise subject, as well as the identity of some of the sitters in both paintings, remains open, but it is suggested that we may well have Before and After pictures. NPG 624A may represent the situation before the Act of 1749 with letters of support being handed to Zinzendorf (extreme right). One hundred and thirty documents were said to have been offered to Parliament in substantiation of the Moravian claim to legality. [7] In NPG 1356, the Gartered nobleman on the right (? Newcastle, opponent of the Bill in the Lords) hands news of the passing of the Act to Zinzendorf, standing to receive it, and to supporters of the Moravians in Europe.

The following propositions can therefore be made regarding the identity of the sitters: in NPG 624A, no.4 may be Patriarch Neophytus of Constantinople and no.5, Asred Grad, sent as amabassador to Neophytus by Zinzendorf in 1739. No.8, who also appears in NPG 1356 (no.7), has been suggested as Hardwicke, then Lord Chancellor, but comparison with other portraits of Hardwicke is not conclusive, and the costume resembles that of a German or Imperial figure, possibly a Burgomaster. The portrait in the medallion he wears includes the Fleece. Nos 3 and 6 wear the blue ribbon of the Garter. An orange ribbon worn on the left shoulder (no.7) must indicate the order of the Black Eagle of Prussia. [8] The women depicted on the curtain may represent sisters of the church, for similar costume appears in other Haidt portraits of Moravians. [9]

In NPG 1356, John Gambold (1711-71), the Moravian minister in London, has been suggested for no.3. If the hand over his shoulder means that he is under the protection of his neighbour, who is a foreigner, the allusion is unexplained. [10] The king (no.4) must be George II, and Augustus III, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony (1696-1763), has been proposed for no.9. No.1, wearing the orange ribbon of the Black Eagle of Prussia, is surely Frederick the Great. A possible candidate for no.6, who wears this ribbon over the Garter, would be Charles Henry Friso of Orange (1711-51), who had the Garter but is not known to have had the Eagle; his son had both. Worn over the right shoulder, the blue ribbon of no.2 could signify either the Order of the St Esprit, or the Swedish Order of the Seraphim. If, as occasionally happens, the ribbon is shown on the wrong shoulder, the Elephant of Denmark may be intended. No.2 resembles portraits of Frederick IV of Denmark (d.1746); this could hardly be his son, Frederick V, who was younger and no pietist. Lastly, no.5 is an unusually tall man. Count Henry of Russia, Zinzendorf's successful rival in 1722 for the hand of his cousin, Countess Theodora of Castell, seems an unlikely candidate, though he was a tall man. [11]

Condition:a nearly horizontal scratch about 2 ½ in. long running into the crown of no.4.

Collections:purchased 1904 as 'George II and Ambassadors', from Mr. F.W. Simpson of 51 Meeting House Lane, Brighton, acting as agent for an unnamed vendor.

Literature:Peter Kroyer, The Story of Lindsey House, Chelsea.1956; Vernon Nelson, ‘John Valentine Haidt', Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Collection, Williamsburg, Virginia, 6 March-24 April 1966; Monroe Fabian, 'Some Moravian Paintings in London', Pennsylvania Folklife, XVII, no.2, 1967-68.

Notes

1. His costume—omophorion (?), mandyas (?), epitrachelion, sakkos, sticharion—varies from the official vestments, and he originally had a mitre which was changed to the more informal kalemaukion. Confusion in details suggests that this figure was not copied from life. For Eastern liturgical vestments see Adrian Fortescue, The Orthodox Eastern Church, 1929, pp.405-07.
2. Exceptions are Benjamin Ingham, brother-in-law of Selina Countess of Huntingdon, Hutton and Montgomery (see Kroyer, p.52), and D.E. Jablonski, engraved by G.P. Busch after Pesne (see George Poensgen and others, Antoine Pesne, Berlin (Deutscher Verein für Kunstwissenschaft), 1958, catalogue 157 and pl.81. He does not seem to be included in the NPG groups.
3. Last heard of in 1911; reproduced and discussed by Fabian; some of those who settled in America including Böhler were painted by Haidt.
4. Brandt does not occur in standard reference works and the information here given was kindly communicated by Herr Bettermann, Director of the Archives of the Brüder-Unität, Herrnhut, in 1930.
5. Kroyer, pp.49-50.
6. Parliament recognised the Moravians as an episcopal church by 1749, George II cap. 120; for a lucid account of the Brethren on which the above is based, see Kroyer, chapters III-IV.
7. Fabian, pp.21-22.
8. I would like to thank Mr Hugh Murray Baillie, FSA, for his assistance with the 18th-century orders of chivalry.
9. Exh. 'John Valentine Haidt', Williamsburg, Va, 1966, figs 2-5.
10. See the engraving of him by Spilsbury after Brandt, published 1771.
11. Kroyer, p.32 and note 1.