Attributed to Christian Richter (Swedish, 1678-1732) Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), wearing grey-lined armour with gilt studs and white lawn collar
Lot 33
Attributed to Christian Richter
(Swedish, 1678-1732)
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), wearing grey-lined armour with gilt studs and white lawn collar
Sold for £8,400 (US$ 13,144) inc. premium

Lot Details
Attributed to Christian Richter (Swedish, 1678-1732)
Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), wearing grey-lined armour with gilt studs and white lawn collar.
Enamel, bearing date on the obverse 1656, gilt-mounted, set in the underside of the lid of a gilt-mounted tortoiseshell box, the lid bearing monogram JR, the box containing paper label inscribed Replica of miniature/ by S. Cooper in/ *** oval case./ which is dated on/ front 1656.
Oval, 41mm (1 5/8in) high

Footnotes

  • The present lot is based on Samuel Cooper’s portrait of Oliver Cromwell, signed and dated 1656 in the National Portrait Gallery, London (NPG 3065) (see Daphne Foskett, Samuel Cooper and his contemporaries, 1974, p.22, no.43). This portrait, itself, being a version of Cooper's undated portrait of Cromwell in the Collection of the Duke of Buccleuch (ibid, p.19, no.36). During the first decade of the 18th Century, Richter is known to have painted a number of copies in watercolour on vellum of Cooper’s depictions of Cromwell and in particular, versions of the 'Buccleuch' portrait. The inscription ‘sum possessor/ CRichter’ on the reverse of one of these copies now in the Wallace Collection (see Graham Reynolds, Wallace Collection, Catalogue of Miniatures, 1980, p.78, no.42) suggests that he in fact owned one of Cooper’s versions of the portrait. An attribution to Richter for the present lot therefore seems to be acceptable despite the fact that there are no signed enamels by him in existence. However, the T.Whitcombe Green Collection (sold Sotheby’s, 7 July 1932, lot 84) contained an enamel catalogued as by Christian Richter depicting a Gentleman, called the Duc d’Orleans. This enamel was later sold by Sotheby’s, 2 February 1969, lot 140 still with the same firm attribution. It is probable that Richter would have learned the art of enamelling from Elias Brenner (1647-1717), whom he studied under in Stockholm prior to his move to England in 1702.

    More importantly George Vertue makes a reference to Richter having taken up enamelling later in his career “Mr. Christian Richter limner born in Stockholm……its plain from his beginning in limning, as he was first initiated according to the rudiments of graving. his lines was sure & his colouring proceeded from light to strenghtning-(Richter 1719 his name thus to a limning)[col.2] contrary to those that begin from oil colours of any strong operations. he finding latterly that Enamelling was much encouraged & likes by Persons of fortune & Nobility he therefore set about the practice of it wherein tho’ a beginner he succeeded so well that in time he might have arrivd to great perfection.” Given that Richter suffered from a facially disfiguring veneral disease in his later years, perhaps he found it preferable to work in enamel which removed the face to face meetings required for ad vivum work.

    Another enamel of Cromwell, identical to the present lot save the absence of the date ‘1656’ on the obverse is in the L. Gilbert Collection (see Sarah Coffin and Bodo Hofstetter, The Gilbert Collection, Portrait Miniatures in Enamel, 2000, pp.95-98). This enamel, which has at times been given to Charles Boit, another Swedish miniaturist, is currently also attributed to Christian Richter.

    Oliver Cromwell remains a highly controversial figure to this day, hailed by some as the upholder of English liberties and reviled by others as a regicide and tyrant. Born into the ranks of the provincial gentry in 1599, his early years were passed in relative obscurity. Elected into parliament as member for Cambridge in 1640, Cromwell became closely involved in the struggle with Charles I which resulted in the outbreak of civil war in 1642. A brilliant soldier and military strategist, his hard-line political views, allied to his puritanical religious convictions, placed him in direct opposition to the royalist cause. Initially the leader of one cavalry troop, he soon rose to command the entire army and took part in the series of battles that culminated in the final defeat of the king's forces, and the execution of Charles himself, in 1649. Installed as Lord Protector, Cromwell would govern England for the better part of a decade - the only time in its history that the country has been a republic. Dying of natural causes in 1658, his corpse was exhumed from Westminster Abbey upon the restoration of the monarchy and subjected to a posthumous beheading.
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