Double portrait of Elizabeth, Lady Thimbleby and ...

Item Number
9040

STUDIO OF SIR ANTHONY VAN DYCK (1599-1641)
Double portrait of Elizabeth, Lady Thimbleby and her sister Dorothy, Viscountess Andover, later Countess of Berkshire (1611-1691), with a cupid.
oil on canvas in a giltwood frame.

This is a version of the portrait in the National Gallery, London (NG6437), formerly in the Spencer Collection at Althorp. The subject depicts two of the six daughters of Thomas, 1st Viscount Savage (1586-1635) and his wife Elizabeth Darcy, suo jure Countess Rivers (1581-1650).

Elizabeth married in 1634, while Dorothy married in 1637. In the composition a cupid offers roses to the seated figure, which suggests a marriage is being celebrated. The flowers are fittingly an attribute of St. Dorothy, namesake of the Countess of Andover. Dorothy's marriage had certainly been a love match, as Dorothy had eloped with Charles Howard before actually marrying him.

There is some debate as to the identification of the sisters, as well as the date of the original painting in the National Gallery, London. Recently however Walter Liedtke and Michelle Safer, following the discovery of another studio version of the composition inscribed with the sitters' identities in a private collection in New York, and re-appraising the iconography of the composition, have suggested that the identities are Dorothy standing, whilst it is her younger sister Elizabeth who is the principal figure, seated in yellow. Liedtke and Safer also suggest that the composition in fact celebrates Elizabeth Savage's marriage to Sir John Thimbleby of Irnham (d.1662), on 29 September 1635, and it is now generally accepted that this identification is correct and that the original painting in the National Gallery can be dated to circa 1635.

SIR ANTHONY VAN DYKE (1599-1641) was the greatest master of the European baroque portrait. Born in Antwerp, he first visited England in 1620. In 1632 he entered the service of King Charles I as Court Painter, and was knighted in 1633.
His clientele was essentially the aristocratic circle of courtiers, many of whom lived in a romantic Royalist dream world which collapsed in ruins in the Civil War, soon after Van Dyck's death.
Sir Anthony Van Dyke's influence on the art of the portrait is almost beyond measure.

SIZE: 59 x 66.5 inches including frame.
PROVENANCE: Possibly James Howard, 3rd Earl of Suffolk (1606/7-1688), first cousin of Charles Howard, Viscount Andover, later 2nd Earl of Berkshire (1615-1679), who married Dorothy Savage in 1637. Suffolk married, in 1682 as his third wife, Ann Montagu (circa 1667-1720), daughter of Robert, 3rd Earl of Manchester (1634-1683);
Possibly by inheritance, following Suffolk's death in 1688, to his wife Ann, who returned to live with her family at Kimbolton Castle; Thence by descent in the collection of the Dukes of Manchester, at Kimbolton Castle, Cambridgeshire, to Alexander Montagu, 10th Duke of Manchester (1902-1977); By whom sold, Kimbolton Castle sale on the premises, Knight, Frank & Rutley, 18 July 1949, lot 18 (as a portrait of the Countesses of Rutland and Southampton);
Miss Marjorie Pollard, OBE (1899-1982)
Sold by Phillips 8 October 1982, lot 243, to The Hon. M. Howard of Faith Wood House, Gloucestershire.
Verso: two collection seals and inscriptions.
LITERATURE:Sir Oliver Millar, et al., Van Dyck: a complete catalogue of the paintings, New Haven and London 2004, p. 436;
W. Liedtke and M. Safer, 'Reversing the roles: Van Dyck's portrait of Lady Elizabeth Thimbleby with her sister Dorothy Savage' in The Burlington Magazine, February 2009, vol CLI, no 1271, p. 80.
£38,950