Sir Joshua Reynolds P.R.A. (Plympton 1723-1792 London) Portrait of Emily Mary, Duchess of Leinster, bust-length, in a pink dress and ermine shawl, within a painted oval
Lot 24
Sir Joshua Reynolds P.R.A.
(Plympton 1723-1792 London)
Portrait of Emily Mary, Duchess of Leinster, bust-length, in a pink dress and ermine shawl, within a painted oval
Sold for £ 81,250 (US$ 106,007) inc. premium

Lot Details
Sir Joshua Reynolds P.R.A. (Plympton 1723-1792 London)
Portrait of Emily Mary, Duchess of Leinster, bust-length, in a pink dress and ermine shawl, within a painted oval
oil on canvas
86.2 x 62.6cm (33 15/16 x 24 5/8in).

Footnotes

  • Provenance
    The sitter and thence by descent to the present owner

    Exhibited
    London, Royal Academy, 1879, no. 16 (incorrectly described as 'Emily, wife of 2nd Duke')
    Dublin, Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Paintings from Irish Collections, 1957, no. 145

    Literature
    Notes on the pictures & at Carton, Kilkea Castle, 13 Dominick Street, Dublin and 6 Carlton House Terrace, London, 1885, p. 25 (as in the Dining Room)
    A. Graves and W. Cronin, A History of the Works of Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A,, London, 1898, vol. II, p. 575, ill. opposite p. 744
    E.K. Waterhouse, Reynolds, London, 1941, p. 66
    Paintings from Irish Collections, exh. cat., Dublin, 1957, p. 30, no. 145
    D. Mannings, Sir Joshua Reynolds, A Complete Catalogue of His Paintings, New Haven and London, 2000, cat. no. 621, p. 191

    Engraved
    Richard Josey, 1879

    The present painting was dated by Waterhouse to circa 1775 but in fact the sitter was in London only from the end of February to the beginning of May 1774 (visiting her dying sister, Caroline, Lady Holland) so the portrait must have been painted then (the Pocket Books for 1774-76 are missing). A payment of 35 guineas is recorded in the Ledger in October 1775. At that time the Duchess was living in France so this payment must have been made by a third party, perhaps her son the second Duke (who paid 70 guineas for his own portrait in May 1775). James Northcote, who worked in Reynolds's studio between 1771-1775, recalled that the artist painted 'an excellent head of the Duchess of Leinster' which Edmund Burke also praised highly but with which the artist expressed dissatisfaction.

    Emilia Mary was born on 6 October 1731, the second of the seven surviving children of Charles Lennox, 2nd Duke of Richmond and Lennox and Sarah, daughter of William Cadogan, Earl Cadogan. Lady Emily Lennox, as she was known, was also a god-daughter of George II. She spent her early years at Goodwood House in Sussex, before her marriage.

    Emily could not have been a better match for the holder of Ireland's most ancient peerage who was to become its premier Duke. She had what the artist of the present portrait termed a 'sweetness of expression', accompanied by outstanding intelligence (she had a standing order in London for all the new books, as well as reading political pamphlets, novels, poetry, and plays) and influential political contacts. Not only was her father a prominent courtier, her sister, (Georgiana) Caroline was married to the brilliant Whig politician, Henry Fox. A political hostess, it is believed that Emily carefully steered Kildare towards decisions or actions he later adopted as his own. On a visit to London in 1753 she arranged to pay a Mr Jones at White's Club 2 guineas per annum to keep Kildare informed of events. During an acrimonious phase in her husband's political career she owned that she enjoyed a 'good fight' and corresponded with Henry Fox concerning politics. It was because of her involvement in these spheres that for many years Emily was known as 'the Queen of Ireland'. Her advice and connections played their part in obtaining Kildare a Marquessate in 1761, and the Dukedom of Leinster in 1766.

    Leinster died in 1773 leaving Emily a jointure of £3,000, and £1,000 for the children still in her care, together with Carton and its furnishings, provided she did not remarry. However, it is widely believed that by 1771 Emily was in love with her children's tutor, the Scotsman William Ogilvie. At first she had asked the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau to come to her home in Ireland to educate her children, but when he refused she employed Ogilvie instead. It is believed that Emily may have married Ogilvie, who was nine years younger than her, in August 1774. Certainly there was a public scandal when Charles Coote, Earl of Bellamont, nearly refused to marry her daughter Emily on this account. Her biographer, Mary Delany recorded: 'People wonder at her marriage, as she is reckoned one of the proudest and most expensive women in the world but perhaps she thought it incumbent (as Lady Brown says of her Grace) to marry and make an honest man of him. There were three children by this second alliance, two of whom survived to adulthood. In all Emily had twenty-two children during thirty years of regular childbearing.
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