portrait of martha clay nee rowley c1735 follower of kneller

Portrait of Martha Clay (nee Rowley) c.1735; Follower of Kneller.


| $4,327 USD | €3,682 EUR

Item Ref



Oil on canvas, the sitter depicted within a fashionable feigned stone oval, all within a very fine carved giltwood 18th century frame: probably painted to commemorate the sitter's wedding to Richard Clay.
This charming provincial portrait bears a label verso, dated 1940, naming the sitter as Susannah Clay, but it is much more likely to be Martha, Susannah's mother. As it often the case, when portraits pass down the generations in a family, identities become confused. Susannah was not born until 1739 and the sitter is an adult in the mid 1730s and wearing the fashions of that time.
Susannah was the daughter of Richard and Martha Clay (nee Rowley); there was a son, Rowley, born in 1738, another daughter Tryphenia born 1741-died 1742, and Martha born 1742. They lived in a large house called "The Hill" in North Wingfield, Derbyshire.
"Looking at the note on the back of the portrait it says Susannah Clay nee Rowley married Richard Clay of "The Hill", but as we know Susannah was the daughter of Richard and Martha baptised 26th Feb.1739; so as we know that is a mistake, also I note that it says gt,gt,gt of ECB which may well be because the daughter Susannah Clay married Thomas Bradley at North Wingfield in 1768. It could be that this same couple were the parents of Susannah, daughter of Thomas and Susannah Bradley baptised 15th March 1771 at nearby Shirland. If there were more Bradleys from that line perhaps that is what ECB is relating to one of the Bradleys." (Our thanks to David Clay).
The Clays are an ancient Derbyshire family, dating from the 1200s. One of the prominent Clay families in the parish lived at a place called “The Hill” in North Wingfield and in 1558 John Clay of “The Hill” left a will in which he mentions his wife Ellen and sons Thomas Clay and John Clay, and again in 1558 James Clarke instructs in his will that the farm at “The Hill” in North Wingfield, that he rents from Mr Revill, is to go to (his daughters husband) Nicholas Ludlam. By 1633 Francis Clay of “The Hill” is listed as a “Freeholder of Land” and by this time had acquired ownership of the farm. In his will of 1644 his sons are John, Francis and William. John Clay of “The Hill” left a will in 1680 and is listed as a yeoman farmer, there is a date stone in the barn with the initials “F + K.C. 1693” (Francis and Katherine Clay). The Clay's ancient house at “The Hill” is still there today and has recently been turned into hotel accommodation under the name of “Hagg Hill Hall”. (Information from the website 'Clay of Derbyshire.)
SIR GODFREY KNELLER was the most distinguished painter of baroque portraits in England.
Born in Lubeck, he trained with Rembrandt, coming to London in 1676.
By 1679 he had painted the King and remained the most famous and successful portrait painter in England until his death.
In 1688 he was made Principal Painter to the King and was knighted in 1692 and a made a baronet in 1715.
His style had a profound influence on British portraiture which continued after his death, and a large number of artists emulated his style.
SIZE: 36.75 x 30.75 inches inc. frame.
PROVENANCE: by descent in the family in Derbyshire.
Internal Ref: 9156


Height = 93.5 cm (37")
Width = 78 cm (31")
Depth = 5 cm (2")

We accept online payments for this item:

Email about this item:

View Similar

Select a category: