Oval portrait miniature of 1st Duke of Wellington honors his gentlemanly qualities in a case of unrequited love

A portrait of the Field Marshall Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, by Robert Thorburn is on sale with Bonhams at Knightsbridge on 21st November (estimate £3000 - 4000).

Angela Burdett-Coutts, an avid collector of portrait miniatures, allegedly commissioned this piece by Thorburn. At the age of 32 she proposed to the Duke depicted in this image, having fallen deeply in love with this legendary military hero.

Forty-five years her senior, Wellesley gently refused her advances with her best interests at heart. He stated in a letter to her that he could still act as her 'Friend, Guardian, Protector', offering a hand of friendship to soothe the affections he felt were misdirected to a man of his age.

Jennifer Tonkin, Specialist in the Portrait Miniatures department, said, "We're delighted to be able to include this rare image of Arthur Wellesley that derives from a very important group portrait by Thorburn of staggering proportions.

The unrequited love story behind the commissioning of lot 127 seems to highlight the Duke's fragility in this reduced composition and it is possible that potential bidders will be as responsive to the link with Angela Burdett-Coutts as they are to Thorburn's masterly technique."

This miniature of the Duke sits alongside other notable lots in the auction, such as Richard Cosway's depiction of the Muse Thalia rumored to be modeled for by Lady Emma Hamilton (estimate £3000 - 5000). Thorburn's work is a masterful image with an endearing story and this miniature portrait is set to add color to a fascinating sale.


NOTES FOR EDITORS

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

Contacts
  1. Julian Roup
    Press
    Bonhams
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  2. Jennifer Tonkin
    Specialist
    Bonhams
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    London, SW7 1HH
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    FaxFax: +44 20 7393 3863