soldportrait of a gentleman of the pett or rolt family c1680 english school

SOLD....Portrait of a gentleman of the Pett or Rolt family c.1680; English School.



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Oil on canvas in carved and giltwood 17th c. frame.
This charming naive portrait of a young gentleman and a warship poses some intriguing questions.
It dates from the end of the 17th century as is shown by the gentleman's clothing and the style of the stern of the vessel.
Painted on the stern, amongst the carved gilt 'gingerbreading', can be seen the coat of arms of the Rolt family.
The sitter gestures towards a pair of shipbuilder's dividers, a globe in the background.
The Pett family of Kent were famous shipbuilders for centuries and were cousins of the Rolt family of Bedfordshire, who were related to the Orlebars of Hinwick House, Bedfordshire.

This portrait hung for many years at Hinwick, but its true date, sitter and the name of the ship of the line depicted were all lost, and curiously it was said in the Hinwick House guide that the ship was Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hind and that the sitter was Sir Peter Pett, Master Shipwright to Elizabeth I.
There were four families of Petts involved with shipbuilding and sailing.
In the 17th century it was said of the family that they were "so knit together that the Devil himself could not discover them". 'The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815' by N.A.M. Rodger.
Could this portrait commemorate the building of a ship of the line by a Pett for a Rolt? The vessel does carry the Rolt arms on its stern and it flies the long red pendant of a private ship of the Red Squadron of the Battle Fleet that was used in the second half of the 17th century, and the sitter points towards shipwright's dividers.
The painting hung at the time the guide was written in the Staircase Hall then, in recent times, on the west wall by the turret door.
VERSO: a fragmentary handwritten label in copperplate script:-
SIZE: 51 25 x 41.5 inches inc. frame.
PROVENANCE: Hinwick House, Bedfordshire.
Internal Ref: 8656

This item is SOLD and is no longer available to purchase.

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