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The Fourdrinier Family

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The Fourdrinier Family, by John Downman, circa 1786 -NPG 6091 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Mid-Georgian Portraits Catalogue

The Fourdrinier Family

attributed to John Downman
circa 1786
18 1/8 in. x 24 1/4 in. (460 mm x 615 mm)
NPG 6091

Inscriptionback to top

Stamped verso: BENJN ... STOW.

This portraitback to top

Henry Fourdrinier (1730-99) sits in a green chair fourth from the left in the back row; with a powdered wig, pale-brown suit, white striped waistcoat, white stockings and black shoes.
From the left in the back row: [1]
His son Charles (1767-1841) [2] blue eyes, powdered hair, wearing a blue coat with silver buttons, black breeches, his feet elegantly spread; a locket of gold, red and silver hangs at his waist.
His son Henry (1766-1854) [3] blue eyes, powdered hair, wearing a red-brown coat with silver buttons, white vest, black breeches, his dark grey hat in his left hand; a locket of gold, red and silver hangs at his waist.
His sister Mary (b. 1728, d. unmarried) in a green wooden chair, grey hair, wearing a white bonnet and black shawl, pale blue underskirt with white panelled dress and white gloves.
Either side of an urn commemorating his deceased wife Jemima, née White (1730-81 who married 1st William Manning) inscribed: J.F./OB.5 SEPTR.1781/AET.51./HER GOOD QUALI[ties]/WERE KNOWN/TO YOU ALL/FOLLOW HER/EXAMPLE AN[d]/BE HAPP[y], his daughter Jemima (1772-1836, married 1799 John Newman, Cardinal Newman was their son) dark brown hair, wearing a white cap, pink underskirt, white dress and pink sash and red shoes.
On the other side his step-daughter Minerva Manning (b. 1763) grey powdered hair, wearing a white bonnet, purple dress trimmed with silver, a white gauze apron and silver shoes.
In the foreground his fair-haired younger sons, John Rawson (b. 1770-c.1836) on the left and Sealy (1774-1847) on the right, identically dressed in green suits with white stockings and black shoes; John holds a sheet of music and a flute.
Henry Fourdrinier was a paper-maker and stationer in Lombard Street, London, son of the engraver Paul Fourdrinier (d. 1758) who came to London from Caen in 1720; his sons Henry and Sealy succeeded to his business, and in 1807 perfected a machine for the manufacture of continuous paper; the considerable costs of their experiments were only partially recovered in 1840, when Parliament made them an award, later supplemented by a subscription raised by the paper trade.
The setting is probably intended to convey the gardens of the Fourdrinier home in Stratford Grove, Putney, [4] although that hardly justifies a distant view of Windsor (if such it is). Miniatures of Henry Fourdrinier and of his sister Mary remained in the family's possession in 1937. [5]

Footnotesback to top

1) These identities are taken from a collotype key furnished by P. A. Fourdrinier Fenn; it is entitled The Fourdrinier Family Picture [The Original (on Copper - Artist’s name not known) was probably painted in, or about, the year 1786].
2) A miniature of him by James Ross was in a private collection in 1985.
3) For other portraits of him, see R. J. B. Walker National Portrait Gallery, Regency Portraits, I, pp 191, 607; II, pls.1517-24; a miniature of him ‘aged about 14 with powdered hair’, belonged to the family in 1937 (letter from N. D. Fourdrinier, 24 November 1937; NPG archive).
4) On the death of Henry sr. in 1799, the house was described as having a library, a well-equipped cellar and much household silver and glass, and with a staff including eleven servants, a coachman and gardener (see R. Edwards, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Fourdriniers’, The Paper Maker, October 1968, p 59). See T. Murdoch, The Quiet Company, 1985, pp 164, 178, 180.
5) Letter from N. D. Fourdrinier, 24 November 1937 (NPG archive).

Provenanceback to top

By family descent to A. Fourdrinier Fenn 1924; P. A. Fourdrinier Fenn, from whom purchased 1990.

Exhibitionsback to top

The Quiet Conquest, Museum of London, 1985 (259); Cardinal Neuman, NPG 1990 (1).

This extended catalogue entry is from the out-of-print National Portrait Gallery collection catalogue: John Ingamells, National Portrait Gallery: Mid-Georgian Portraits 1760-1790, National Portrait Gallery, 2004, 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.

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