The Marriage of Hercules and Hebe oil on canvas 63.5 x 76.5 cm. (25 x 30 1/8 in.)
PROVENANCE: Collection of the Marquis of Sligo Purchased by the present owners from William Sabin and Sons, London, 1956, as by Sir James Thornhill
LITERATURE: Edward Croft Murray, Decorative Painting in England 1537-1837, Country Life, 1962-70, illustrated p.140
The present lot is a sketch for the main composition of the ceiling decoration for the Great Hall at Boughton House, Northamptonshire. Chéron was a precursor of John Thornhill and the present sketch is of the type that Thornhill must have known and have imitated when he came to launch himself as a decorative painter (see Edward Croft-Murray, letter to the owner, 18 December, 1956). Boughton was the country seat of Ralph Montagu, first Duke of Montagu. The Duke had been Charles II's ambassador at the French court, where he made the preliminary negotiations for the Treaty of Dover. On that occasion he brought back to England with him, Antonio Verrio, the founder of international Baroque painting in England. A devotee of French architecture, Montagu encouraged the French flower painter Jean-Baptiste Monnoyer to visit England and patronised Louis Chéron, whom he commissioned to paint all the ceilings of the state rooms at Boughton. When William Congreve dedicated The Way of the World to Montagu in 1699, he said: 'If I am not mistaken, poetry is almost the only art which has not yet laid claim to your Lordship's patronage. Architecture and painting, to the great honour of our country, have flourished under your influence and protection.'