Attributed to William Russell Birch (British/American, 1755-1834) Nancy, Countess of Maynard (d. 1814/5), seated, her left arm resting on a stone plinth and her cheek resting against her left hand, wearing two-tone gold silk dress, white lace cuffs and trim to her décolleté, cream stole with red and green embroidery and matching turban, a small framed bust-length silhouette fastened to a red ribbon bow at her corsage with three pearl strands suspended below, pearl necklace
Lot 43
Attributed to William Russell Birch
(British/American, 1755-1834)
Nancy, Countess of Maynard (d. 1814/5), seated, her left arm resting on a stone plinth and her cheek resting against her left hand, wearing two-tone gold silk dress, white lace cuffs and trim to her décolleté, cream stole with red and green embroidery and matching turban, a small framed bust-length silhouette fastened to a red ribbon bow at her corsage with three pearl strands suspended below, pearl necklace
Sold for £5,250 (US$ 8,679) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
Attributed to William Russell Birch (British/American, 1755-1834)
Nancy, Countess of Maynard (d. 1814/5), seated, her left arm resting on a stone plinth and her cheek resting against her left hand, wearing two-tone gold silk dress, white lace cuffs and trim to her décolleté, cream stole with red and green embroidery and matching turban, a small framed bust-length silhouette fastened to a red ribbon bow at her corsage with three pearl strands suspended below, pearl necklace.
Enamel, gold frame, the reverse gilt-metal panel engraved Nancy Countefs of Maynard/ Wife of the late/ Lord Maynard/ died at Naples./ 27 Decbr. 1836.
Oval, 58mm (2 5/16in) high

Footnotes

  • Nancy Parsons was the daughter of a Bond Street tailor. She accompanied a slave trader named Horton, or Houghton, to the West Indies, returning to London as Mrs. Horton. In 1763 she was the mistress of Augustus Henry FitzRoy, third Duke of Grafton, and later, in 1769, of John Frederick Sackville, third Duke of Dorset. In 1776 she married Charles Maynard, second Viscount Maynard, who, at twenty-three, was probably at least a decade younger than she. In 1784 she began an affair with the nineteen-year-old Francis Russell, fifth Duke of Bedford. She is reported to have died in France in the winter of 1814–15.

    In addition to creating his own compositions, Birch copied the works of various artists, both in enamel and in engravings. Most notable of these were his copies after Sir Joshua Reynolds. The present lot is after the full-scale portrait in oils by Sir Joshua Reynolds, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

    The identification of the sitter was not recorded as Nancy Parsons until the painting's appearance on the art market in 1928. According to the Bache Collection sale catalogues (refs. 1929, 1937, 1943), it had belonged to Frances, Countess of Warwick, granddaughter of the third and last Viscount Maynard. The Scottish artist, George Willison painted Parsons in Turkish dress (Yale Center for British Art, New Haven) and this portrait was engraved by Ridley as a small oval, in 1771, as 'Miss P'. The Reynolds portrait, like Willison's, shows the sitter in what an eighteenth-century viewer would have called oriental costume. Reynolds is said to have recorded three appointments for sittings with a Mrs. Houghton in 1767 and a further seven with Mrs. Horton in 1769. A note on technique at the end of the artist's ledger dates before January 22nd, 1770, and seems likely, on account of the colour scheme, to refer to the full-scale oil painting behind the present lot.
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