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Early Georgian Portraits Catalogue

Maria Clementina Sobieska (1702-1735), Wife of Prince James Francis Edward Stuart

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. [1] 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 [2] 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. [3] A portrait in the Scottish NPG (886) [4] 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, [5] 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 (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-25, 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, [6] 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'. [7]

The painting, for which a payment is recorded to ‘Peche for the Queen's Picture with the Princes' (i.e. Princess) in 1722, [8] 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 [9]; 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'. [10] 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. [11]

A further type by Trevisani, a long half length similar to Scottish NPG 886, known only from engravings such as Faber junior's (F. O'Donoghue and Sir Henry M. Hake, Catalogue of Engraved British Portraits ... in the British Museum, 1908-25, 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 (J. Chaloner Smith, British Mezzotinto Portraits, 1878-83, 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, [12] the Duke of Hamilton, Denis Dickinson and formerly with Alexander Stuart. [13] 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. [14] 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), 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, [15] 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. [16]

1) RA Stuart Papers, vol. 45, letter 56.
2) In 1920 catalogue described ‘Maria Leczinska, Queen of Louis XV’ by Largillière.
3) Extracts from the Stuart papers, Royal Archives, Windsor, relating to portraits, compiled by the Hon. Miss Stuart-Wortley, I, p 4.
4) Exhibited 'Historical Portraits', Aberdeen, 1859 (56) lent by W. Pollard-Urquhart, Second Exhibition of National Portraits, 1867 (192).
5) Extracts from the Stuart papers, Royal Archives, Windsor, relating to portraits, compiled by the Hon. Miss Stuart-Wortley, I, p 41.
6) Extracts from the Stuart papers, Royal Archives, Windsor, relating to portraits, compiled by the Hon. Miss Stuart-Wortley, I, p 36; for Smibert's visit to Italy see The Notebook of John Smibert, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1969, pp 6-7.
7) Bodleian Library, Rawlinson MS, pp 296-97 and pp 337-38, quoted by kind permission of the Keeper, Department of Western MS.
8) Extracts from the Stuart papers, Royal Archives, Windsor, relating to portraits, compiled by the Hon. Miss Stuart-Wortley, I, p 38.
9) W. G. Blaikie Murdoch, 'Antonio David: A Contribution to Stuart Iconography', Burlington Magazine, LVI, 1930, reproduced p 202; see also Martin Haile [Miss Hallé], James Francis Edward, The Old Chevalier, 1907, opposite p 270.
10) PRO, John Walton letters, 28 June 1727.
11) Extracts from the Stuart papers, Royal Archives, Windsor, relating to portraits, compiled by the Hon. Miss Stuart-Wortley, I, p 5.
12) Scottish History and Life, 1902, p 165.
13) Sir George Scharf's Trustees' Sketchbooks, XXIV, p 52.
14) A. Lang, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, 1903, p 20.
15) British Museum Add MS 6392, f.38.
16) Glasgow Art Review, II, 1946, p 23.


This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Kerslake, Early Georgian Portraits, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1977, and is as published then. For the most up-to-date details on individual Collection works, we recommend reading the information provided in the Search the Collection results on this website in parallel with this text.