Miss Fordyce (Mrs Greenwood)

On display in:

Baron's Room

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Artist or maker

Reynolds, Joshua (b.1723, d.1792)

Date

1762-1763

dated from Reynolds's sitter book

Place of production

  • London, England, United Kingdom

Medium

  • oil on canvas

Type of object

  • paintings

Accession number

2862

Portrait of Miss Fordyce (Mrs Greenwood) playing a lute. Miss Fordyce is shown in half-length pose, turned to the left with the lute in front. She reads an open music book resting on a stand on a small table to the left. She wears a diaphanous veil and a silk gown over a low-cut white chemise. Patterned draperies appear behind and to the left.

Joshua Reynolds's account book shows that Walter Radcliffe paid for this portrait. Miss Fordyce may have been his mistress during the early 1760s. The portrait references Italian paintings of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Commentary

In its half length pose and the inclusion of the lute, the portrait is reminiscent of Italian portraits of the 16th and 17th centuries, for example Artemisia Gentileschi's self portrait as a lute player, Curtis Galleries, Minneapolis. Reynolds may have seen similar paintings during his trip to Italy in 1750-52. The style is reminiscent of Reynold's depiction of the muse of Tragedy in his contemporary portrait of David Garrick at Waddesdon (acc. no. 102.1995). This muse was painted in the style of Guido Reni, an Italian artist associated with restrained classicism. Reynolds may have intended the classical and antiquated feel to frame connotations of the woman's availability in a veil of respectability.

When this portrait was made, Reynolds was fast becoming one of the most fashionable portrait painters in London. He had just moved into a larger studio; taken on an apprentice and begun publicly exhibiting. The portrait emphasises the sitter's feminine beauty and availability in her turned head and exposed d├ęcolletage. Around the same time it was made, Miss Fordyce's brother, Alexander, a London banker, became famous for making and then losing a fortune buying and short-selling shares in the East India Company.

The painting's buyer, Walter Radcliffe, came from Waleigh near Plymouth. He was a friend of John Parker, Lord Boringdon, of nearby Saltram House, who was an early patron of Reynolds. Reynolds's family came from Devon, so he may have won this patronage through his family's ties. Miss Fordyce later married a Mr Greenwood. She was reputed to have been one of 20 children of the Provost of Aberdeen, George Fordyce.

Phillippa Plock, 2011

Physical description

Dimensions (mm) / weight (mg)

760 x 628

Signature & date

not signed or dated

Inscriptions

Sitting Room
Right of fireplace
Inscription
on verso

R. of fireplace
Inscription
on verso

G.[...]R. Left of west window [crossed out]
Inscription
on verso

Labels

9002
Label
on verso, old label half torn, ink

306
MURA. ENGLAND
Printed label
on verso, modern label, printed

Sitting Room
Right of fireplace
Label
on verso

Sitting Room
Right of fireplace
Label
on verso

TL
Label
on verso

W1/24/1
Label
on verso

History

Provenance

  • Commissioned from Reynolds by Walter Radcliffe (b.1733, d.1803 ); probably purchased by John, Lord Boringdon (d.1788), a friend of the buyer Walter Radcliffe, or it may have been bequeathed by Radcliffe to John's son, 1st Earl of Morley of Saltram House, Devon (b.1772, d.1840) who owned it by 1813; by descent to his son Edmund Parker 2nd Earl of Morley (b.1810, d.1864); by descent to his son Albert Edmund Parker 3rd Earl of Morley (b.1843, d.1905); bought by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (b.1839, d.1898) from the 3rd Earl of Morley during the 1880s; inherited by his sister Alice de Rothschild (b.1847, d.1922); inherited by her great-nephew James de Rothschild (b.1878, d.1957); accepted by The Treasury Solicitor in lieu of taxes on the Estate of Mr James de Rothschild in 1963; given to Waddesdon The Rothschild Collection (The National Trust) in 1990.

Exhibition history

  • British Institute Exhibition, 1813, London, no. 63, as 'Mrs Greenwood', lent by Lord Boringdon (1st Earl of Morley)

Collection

  • Waddesdon (National Trust)
  • Accepted by HM Government in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the National Trust for display at Waddesdon Manor, 1990
Bibliography

Bibliography

  • Algernon Graves, William Vine Cronin; A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds; 4 vols; London; Henry Graves; 1899-1901; vol. 1, p. 325
  • Ellis Waterhouse; Reynolds; London; Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. Ltd.,; 1941; p. 51
  • Ellis Waterhouse, Anthony Blunt; Paintings: The James A. de Rothschild Collection at Waddesdon Manor; Fribourg; Office du Livre, The National Trust; 1967; pp. 72-73, cat. no. 25, ill.
  • Malcolm Cormack, The Ledgers of Sir Joshua Reynolds, The Walpole Society, 42, 1968-1970, 105-69; pp. 133-34
  • David Mannings, Martin Postle; Sir Joshua Reynolds: a Complete Catalogue of his Paintings; 2 vols; London; Yale University Press; 2000; p. 200, no. 661, fig. 654
Other details

Subject person

  • Miss Fordyce, Sitter