Mrs Diana Hill (née Dietz) (British, active 1775-1844) Sir Charles Cockerell Bt. (1755-1837), wearing brown coat, white waistcoat, frilled chemise and cravat, his hair powdered

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Lot 27Y
Mrs Diana Hill
(née Dietz) (British, active 1775-1844)
Sir Charles Cockerell Bt. (1755-1837), wearing brown coat, white waistcoat, frilled chemise and cravat, his hair powdered

£ 7,000 - 9,000
US$ 9,700 - 12,000
Mrs Diana Hill (née Dietz) (British, active 1775-1844)
Sir Charles Cockerell Bt. (1755-1837), wearing brown coat, white waistcoat, frilled chemise and cravat, his hair powdered.
Signed on the obverse and dated Hill/ 1786, gilt-metal mounted rectangular papier-mâché frame, inscribed on the reverse Sir Charles Cockrell [sic] Bar.
Oval, 90mm (3 9/16in) high
Provenance: Christie's, 3 October 1972, lot 143
Exhibited: Portrait Miniatures from the Merchiston Collection, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 23 September – 11 December 2005, no.32
Literature: Daphne Foskett, Collecting Miniatures, 1979, p.329, ill.pl.91A
Daphne Foskett, Miniatures: Dictionary and Guide, 1987, p.328-9, pl.91A
Stephen Lloyd, Exhibition Catalogue, 2005, p.44-5 and 64, ill.col.pl.15

Footnotes

  • Charles was the fifth son of John Cockerell (1714–1767) and Frances (d.1769), née Jackson, a descendant of Samuel Pepys, the diarist. In 1776 he followed his eldest brother, John (d.1798), who had been commissioned into the East India Company's army, to Bengal as a writer in the company's civil service.

    Cockerell spent most of his Indian service in Calcutta, where his most important appointment was as the company's postmaster-general from 1784-1792. Thereafter he devoted his time to transacting his own private business as a partner in what was called a 'house of agency'. Houses of agency were a relatively new development in British India, handling the concerns of Europeans in India - acting as agents for their business dealings.

    In 1784 Cockerell became a partner in the agency house established by William Paxton. When Paxton went to London to extend their business there, Cockerell managed the Calcutta house, which as Paxton and Cockerell, later Paxton, Cockerell, and Trail, became the most successful agency of its time. Although one of his contemporaries doubted whether Cockerell had 'a heart that could raise a thermometer above the freezing point', he seems to have been a popular as well as a conspicuous figure in Calcutta society. He married firstly Maria Tryphena Blunt (c.1769-1789), daughter of Sir Charles William Blunt, but she died in October of the same year. She was painted four times by George Engleheart, two versions being in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, nos. MIN 240 & 241, another version in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, no.3759 and a further version, sold Christie's, 3 October 1972, lot 141.

    In 1801 Cockerell moved back to Britain, continuing his work for the same agency. The firm continued to transact Indian agency business, as well as banking for British clients. Cockerell's interests spread very widely beyond the bank. He became a director of the Globe Insurance Company, the Arkendale and Derwent Mining Company, and the Gas, Light, and Coke Company. No doubt a wealthy man when he left India, his fortune at his death was £140,000. Cockerell entered parliament as MP for Tregony in Cornwall in 1802 and, with an interval of two years, was to remain an MP, representing a number of constituencies, for the rest of his life. He identified himself politically with the former governor-general, Richard, Marquess Wellesley, to whom he appears to have advanced large sums of money. Through Wellesley's influence Cockerell was made a baronet in 1809.

    Cockerell maintained a large London house at Hyde Park Corner, but also bought Sezincote in Gloucestershire from the estate of his late brother John and instructed his architect brother, Samuel Pepys Cockerell, to convert it to a house in the Mughal taste. Samuel was aided by Humphry Repton and the artist Thomas Daniell, who had travelled in India. Work was begun in 1806/7 and continued into the 1820s, resulting in what was probably the most ambitious attempt at that time to reproduce Indian architecture in Britain. He entertained lavishly at Sezincote and Warren Hastings, his near neighbour, was a frequent guest. The Indian traveller Mirza Abu Talib, who was once entertained by Cockerell with 700 other diners, paid tribute to his generosity: 'Had he been my brother, he could not have behaved with more kindness'.

    In 1808 Cockerell married secondly the Hon. Harriet Rushout (d. 1851), daughter of John Rushout, 1st Baron Northwick, with whom he had a son and two daughters. Harriet was famously painted along with her sisters Anne and Elizabeth by Andrew Plimer in the miniature "The Three Graces". She was also painted by Richard Cosway.
Mrs Diana Hill (née Dietz) (British, active 1775-1844) Sir Charles Cockerell Bt. (1755-1837), wearing brown coat, white waistcoat, frilled chemise and cravat, his hair powdered
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