portrait thought to be of anne lady somerset c1640 attributed to theodore russell

Portrait thought to be of Anne Lady Somerset c.1640, Attributed to Theodore Russell.



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Oil on oak panel in an appropriate reproduction frame.
Known as Anne L. Somers. this sitter has been misidentified for years. The abbreviations were a commonplace at one time, as Richard Grigson, art collector and connoisseur, said in an email to me:
"There is no Anne Somers! The full stop is a dead giveaway. Anne L.(ady) Somers.(et). In other words, Anne Carr, only child and heir of Robert Carr, Ist Earl of Somerset. Her dates 1615 to 1684. She married, in 1637, William Russell, fifth Earl of Bedford and was one of the celebrated beauties of the day, painted by Van Dyck..."
ANNE CARR, COUNTESS OF BEDFORD (9 December 1615[1] 10 May 1684) was a wealthy English noblewoman, and the wife of William Russell, 5th Earl of Bedford, a peer and soldier during the English Civil War, who after her death was created Duke of Bedford. Her mother was the notorious Frances Howard who was an accomplice to murder. In about 1638, Anne was the subject of at least two portraits by Flemish painter Anthony van Dyck.
Lady Anne was born in the Tower of London on 9 December 1615, the only child and heir of Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset and Frances Howard, a member of the noble Howard family. Anne was baptised on 16 December 1615 at St Martin's Church, Ludgate. At the time of her birth, her parents were imprisoned on charges of having participated in the fatal poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury in 1613. They were both sentenced to death, but later spared execution. Her mother admitted to her complicity in the crime but her father maintained his innocence. The family remained in the Tower until January 1622 when King James I pardoned them.
Anne was described as having been virtuous and one of the beauties of the royal court. Her beauty caught the eye of William Russell, the son and heir of Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford and Catherine Brydges. Remembering the notorious scandal caused by Anne's parents; William's father staunchly opposed the match, warning his son to be "upon his guard against the dangerous beauty of Anne Carr". A passionate attachment sprang up between William and Anne and the former refused to yield to his father's wishes in the matter. King Charles I, who favoured the marriage, eventually persuaded the earl to give his consent to the match; thus on 11 July 1637 at St. Benet's Church, Paul's Wharf, London, William Russell and Anne Carr were married.
When William succeeded as the 5th Earl of Bedford on 9 May 1641 upon the death of his father, Anne was thereafter styled as Countess of Bedford. She was never the Duchess of Bedford as William was not created a duke until ten years following her death.
The couple resided at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire, and their marriage was said to have been happy
This is a very attractive example of the small-scale portraits, often of the Society beauties of the time, that became very fashionable in the mid 17th century. They are usually very Van Dyck influenced in mood and presentation; sets of these can be found in many great houses such as Knole, Knebworth and Woburn as well as in the Royal Collection.
THEODORE RUSSELL (1614-1688/9) is considered to be the painter of these portraits, although there is no certain evidence to support this. Russell's father had left Bruges in 1573 and settled in London, working as a goldsmith. Theodore studied under Cornelius Johnson and Sir Anthony Van Dyck, becoming employed by such patrons as the 3rd Earl of Essex and the 1st Earl of Holland. He was said to be 'a lover of ease and his bottle'.
Our sincere thanks to Richard Grigson.
SIZE: 18.75 x 15.50 inches inc. frame.
PROVENANCE: London Private Collection.
Verso: trade label of Hamish Dewar Ltd, Restorer, of St. James's, London.
Old torn handwritten label, and faded old Christies stencil. Old red wax collection seal.
Internal Ref: 9017


Height = 48 cm (19")
Width = 39 cm (16")
Depth = 4 cm (2")

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