George Romney (1734-1802)
Portrait of Anne Barbara Russell née Whitworth with her son Sir Henry Russell
Oil on canvas
144 x 113cm; 56¾ x 40½in
Together with a framed account of the sitting by Sir Henry Russell and three books detailed below
Anne Barbara Russell (1762-1813) was the 5th daughter of Sir Charles Whitworth (1714-1778) of Leybourne, near Maidstone, Kent and his wife Martha Rose Shelley of Castle Goring, Sussex. She married Sir Henry Russell, 1st Baronet (1751-1836) as his second wife in 1782. Their eldest son, also Henry, was born in 1783. She had four more sons and five daughters. Her husband became a judge in India in 1797, Chief Justice of Bengal in 1806, and returned to England and was given a baronetcy in 1812. He survived his wife by 22 years.
Sir Henry Russell 2nd Baronet (1782-1852), the little boy in the picture, was British resident at Hyderabad from 1810-1820. He features in William Dalrymple's book "The White Mughals" (Harper Collins 2002). During this period he organised what was called "The Russell Brigade" which comprised 4000 of the Nizam of Hyderabad's Irregular Cavalry under British Officers. He returned to England in 1820 and bought Swallowfield Park near Reading. The picture was in that house from 1838 until 1965 and has been in the possession of the present owner, the sitter's Great Great Grandson, since then.
Included in this lot is a framed account of the inception of this painting from Sir Henry Russell, probably written in 1830's after he inherited this painting from his father who died in 1836
On coming one day to dine with my father in Bedford Row, Romney, the painter, found my mother holding me on one of the pier tables, playing with the looking glass. He said, 'That would make a very pretty picture'. 'Then' said my father 'as you think so, you shall paint it', and this picture was the consequence. It was painted in 1786/7 when I was between three and four years old. I was breeched, as it was called, the day I was four years old, the 27 May 1787. I do not remember sitting, or as I ought to call it, standing for the picture but I do remember, such are the whims of memory, my sash being sent for the colour, and I also remember my mother's green satin gown, and the table and the looking glass, both of which were painted from the reality and which were kept by my father until he went to India in 1797. To show how small the prices of even the best painters were in those days, I copy the following entry from my Father's account book. '1789. April 6. Paid Romney for Ann's picture £42.' Collins, the painter, the first day he came to Swallowfield, asked me by whom this picture had been painted? and when I told him Romney. 'Then now, he said, I know what I never knew before; how it was that Romney got his reputation'.
Also included in the lot are:
Ward, Humphrey and W. Roberts: Romney, a biographical and critical Essay ... with a Catalogue Raisonné, 2 vols., Agnew & Sons, 1904, Presentation copy (50 of 350) with author's inscription (dated 1904) presenting it to Constance, Lady Russell, widow of the sitter's grandson, Sir George Russell (1828-1898)
Hayley, William, Life of George Romney, 1809, 12 plates, including one after William Blake, contemporary polished calf with gilt borders and spine. From the library at Swallowfield Park.
Miller Jonathan, Catalogue from the Exhibition 'On Reflection', National Gallery 1998, at which the portrait was exhibited.