Portrait of an Officer c. 1770; by ...

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Oil on canvas, later mounted on board, in a gilt mount and frame.

This is a charming small portrait, painted with almost a miniaturist's skill, of a British officer of the 1770s; probably painted in India. The sitter has the serene and assured poise typical of Kettle's portraits. The size makes it likely that it was a gift to a wife or fiancée, sent via ship from India to Britain.

TILLY KETTLE (1735–1786) was a portrait painter and the first prominent English portrait painter to operate in India.
He was born in London, the son of a coach painter. He studied drawing with William Shipley in the Strand and first entered professional portraiture in the 1750s.

Kettle's first series of portraits appeared in the 1760s. His first surviving painting is a self-portrait from 1760, with his first exhibit with the Free Society of Artists in 1761. In 1762, he worked at restoring Robert Streater's ceiling paintings in the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford, and painted Francis Yarborough, a doctor of Brasenose College, Oxford in 1763. He painted many members of the family of William Legge, 2nd Earl of Dartmouth. In 1764-5, he was active in London and continued exhibiting at the Society of Artists.

In 1768, Kettle sailed to India with the British East India Company, landing at Madras, where he remained for two years. There, he painted Lord Pigot and Muhammad Ali Khan twice (once alone and once with five of his sons). In 1770 Kettle painted a half-length portrait of 'Sir' Levett Hanson, a peripatetic writer on European knighthood and chivalry originally from Yorkshire. (The portrait is now in the collection of the Bury St Edmunds Manor House Museum.)

Kettle moved on to Calcutta in 1771. In 1775, he painted George Bogle, Warren Hastings' emissary to Tibet, in Tibetan dress, presenting a ceremonial white scarf to Lobsang Palden Yeshe the 6th Panchen Lama. He also took an Indian bibi or mistress and had two daughters by her, Ann and Elizabeth.

He left India in 1776 for London, travelling on the ship Talbot. On his return, he swiftly married Mary "Polly" Paine (1753–1798) on 23 February 1777. Mary was the younger daughter of the architect James Paine and half sister of the sculptor James Paine. She brought a dowry of £5,000, while Kettle put up £3,000 toward a trust fund, set up in a pre-nuptial settlement, dated 22 February 1777, the day before their wedding, so both parties were well established. The couple had two children, a daughter, Mary, and a son, James. At the same time, he switched his exhibitors to the Royal Academy of Art. He had fewer clients in England than he had before his departure, and contemporaries claimed his wife was financially imprudent. He fell into debt, and spent some time in Ireland to escape his financial problems.

In 1786 he set out for a return to India. He attempted the voyage overland through Asia. His last portrait, The Turkish Janissary of the English Factory, Aleppo, was painted in Aleppo, and he died some time later, although where and when is unclear, possibly in the desert on his way to Basrah before the end of 1786.

SIZE: 13 x 11 inches including the frame.
PROVENANCE: Surrey Private Collection.

Portrait of a Gentleman c. 1630; Studio ...

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Oil on canvas in appropriate reproduction frame.

This is a very fine portrait from the early 17th century workshop of Daniel Mytens.
The sitter displays his considerable wealth in the exquisite quality of his lace and the workmanship of his doublet.

DANIEL MYTENS c.1590-1647. The Jacobean portraitist Daniel Mytens (sometimes spelt Mijtens) was born in Delft, Netherlands. It is likely that Mytens learned to paint from a relative, eventually training with either Jan Anthonisz van Ravesteyn in The Hague or Michiel van Mierevelt (d. 1641) in Delft, joining the professional association of painters in The Hague, the Guild of St Luke, in 1610, before marrying in 1612.

A letter addressed to the English ambassador in The Haguewritten by Mytens and dated 18 August 1618 implies that he had arrived in England sometime before 1618, the year in which he completed his first English commission, a double portrait of Thomas Howard, second Earl of Arundel, and his wife, Alatheia Talbot, Countess of Arundel in which the fashionable pair sit before two viewing galleries, one lined with classical, figurative sculptures, the other hung with painted portraits. On his arrival in London Mytens joined a community of Dutch and Flemish artists with whom he was linked by familial ties and likely began his career working for his relative, the royal painter Paul van Somer (c.1577-1621).

Even at this early stage he demonstrated a natural acuity for realism and perception in the subtle nuances of light and texture best achieved in the portraiture of his contemporary, Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641). His Netherlandish origins provided him with fastidious draughtsmanship, a delicate handling of form and convincing treatment of space whilst also capturing the fine splendour of court dress. He laid emphasis on the faces of his sitters, arguably indicative of Mierevelt’s influence, but most significantly his portraits balance psychological insight with a sense of reserved dignity. The departure of Van Dyck for Italy in 1621 and the death of Paul van Somer that same year left Mytens free to claim artistic supremacy at the court of King James I.
James I believed Mytens’s modern, sophisticated and flattering style of portraiture would help him achieve the betrothal of his son, Charles, to the Spanish Infanta Maria Anna, and on 19 July 1624 he granted the artist a pension committing him to serve him and his heirs ‘faithfullie and diligently’, forbidding him to go abroad without royal consent. Later that year Prince Charles granted Mytens denizenship and by 1625 the artist was living in a house in St Martin's Lane, London. By June 1625 his ‘faculty and skill…in the art of picture drawing’ secured him the official position of a Picture-Drawer in the Royal Chamber in Ordinary of the new King Charles I. Charles commissioned copies of Italian old masters by the likes of Titian and Vecchio in the Royal Collection, allowing Mytens to develop his style on a six month trip to the Netherlands in August 1626 during which he absorbed influences from contemporary Dutch and Flemish portraiture.

Mytens is recorded as returning to England by 1626 and enjoyed a lucrative, largely unchallenged, career at court through to 1630.
He was granted permission to leave England for the Low Countries in 1630. He continued to receive his pension from the English treasury but began to work primarily as an agent for British art collectors, principally the Earl of Arundel, acting as an intermediary on the sale of works by Holbein, Dürer, Raphael, Andrea del Sarto and Titian. Mytens painted a few minor portraits while serving as deacon in his local church from 1638, eventually dying on 22 June 1647.

SIZE: 34.25 x 30.5 inches inc. frame.
PROVENANCE: Private Collection, Abingdon, Oxfordshire.