Thomas Hargreaves (British, 1775-1846) A Lady, called Mrs Mary Whitehouse née Lake (1774-1865) carrying her daughter, Clarissa Barbara, on her back: the former, wearing white dress with short sleeves and vermillion cloak, her dark hair upswept beneath a straw hat adorned with flowers, her right hand pointing upwards; the latter, cradled on her mother's back within the seat of a blue shawl, resting her arm on her mother's neck and wearing white dress, her brown hair curling naturally
Lot 150Y
Thomas Hargreaves
(British, 1775-1846)
A Lady, called Mrs Mary Whitehouse née Lake (1774-1865) carrying her daughter, Clarissa Barbara, on her back: the former, wearing white dress with short sleeves and vermillion cloak, her dark hair upswept beneath a straw hat adorned with flowers, her right hand pointing upwards; the latter, cradled on her mother's back within the seat of a blue shawl, resting her arm on her mother's neck and wearing white dress, her brown hair curling naturally
£1,500 - 2,500
US$ 2,500 - 4,100
Auction Details
Lot Details
Thomas Hargreaves (British, 1775-1846)
A Lady, called Mrs Mary Whitehouse née Lake (1774-1865) carrying her daughter, Clarissa Barbara, on her back: the former, wearing white dress with short sleeves and vermillion cloak, her dark hair upswept beneath a straw hat adorned with flowers, her right hand pointing upwards; the latter, cradled on her mother's back within the seat of a blue shawl, resting her arm on her mother's neck and wearing white dress, her brown hair curling naturally.
Gilt-wood frame, together with a loose handwritten note: Presented to Charlotte Mary Folks/ Augst 10th 1865/ In memory of those ***/ dear when in life/ and in death.
Rectangular, 107mm (4 3/16in) high
Provenance: The sitters; thence by family descent.
Literature: J. E. Thornes, John Constable's skies: a fusion of art and science, 1999, p.133, pl.49; V. Charles, Constable, 2005, p.19, pl.13; M. Gayford and A. Lyles, Constable Portraits: The Painter & His Circle, 2009, p.80, pl.12.

Footnotes

  • Very little is known of the sitters portrayed in the present lot but they both seem to have come from large families. Mary Lake is said to have been the youngest of eighteen children. She married William Whitehouse (1772-1844), who came from a merchant family in Liverpool. A gentleman by this name is listed as a broker and agent with the West of England Fire & Life Insurance Company at 10 Exchange Buildings, 124 Duke Street, Liverpool (E. Baines, History, Directory, and Gazetteer, of the County Palatine of Lancaster, Vol I: Liverpool, 1824, p.343). Mary and William are said to have had at least eight children, of which Clarissa was the third.

    The composition of the present lot is remarkably similar to Chinnery's miniature portraying William Makepeace Thackeray and his mother, Anne Becher, sold at these salerooms on 21 November 2012 (lot 83). Chinnery is known to have drawn and painted a number of double and group family portraits containing similar compositions whilst in India. The threat of disease posed by the tropical climate created a taste for portraits conveying close relationships and idealized images of domestic bliss.

    The present lot is also comparable with Chinnery's 1803 miniature portraying a mother embraced by her child from behind (J. Aronson and M. E. Wieseman, Perfect Likeness: European and American Portrait Miniatures from the Cincinnati Art Museum, 2006, ill.p.118, pl.30). The mother had at one time been identified as Sarah Siddons but this identification has since come into question as Chinnery was in India by 1803. Whilst the vermillion shawl is absent from this particular composition, the body positioning of the two sitters is closely comparable with those of the present lot who, like the Thackerays, are traveling by foot. The same theme is explored in the 1803 miniature, in which the rigging behind the seated mother and child indicates a voyage by sea.

    John Constable is also known to have featured female figures wearing red cloaks in his paintings. In the wake of the industrial revolution, England was suffering an agricultural depression and the inclusion of a gypsy mother nursing her child and wearing a red cloak in his 1828 canvas, 'The Vale of Dedham' (National Gallery of Scotland, Accession no. NG 2016), may reflect the instability of rural life and Constable's sympathy for the cause of ordinary people.

    The European landscape behind Mrs Whitehouse and her daughter Clarissa suggests that the portrait was painted in England but it would seem highly probable that Hargreaves was aware of Chinnery's earlier work in India and influenced by the themes he and Constable explored.
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