2003.28: Lettice Mary Banks
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© The Holburne Museum of Art, Bath
|Title||Lettice Mary Banks|
|Object type||In category: Pictures » Painting|
Hoare, William (British painter, ca.1707-1792) (known) - Painter(s)
Banks, Lettice Mary (1716-1757) (known) - Sitter(s)
|Place of origin||Europe » Northern Europe » British Isles » Great Britain » England » Bath|
81.8 cm height framed
66.6 cm width framed
3.7 cm depth framed
57.5 cm height sight
43.8 cm width sight
|Materials & techniques||
Pictures: Medium » Paint » Oil paint
Pictures: Support » Canvas
Half-length portrait of a lady, three-quarter face, her head tilted slightly to the viewer's right. Mid-brown hair, slightly curled and perhaps powdered, under a lace-trimmed cap tied at the throat with a blue satin bow. She wears a matching gown of blue satin, low-cut with a fichu edged with lace and a large blue bow. The oversleeves are pinned back with pearls, a typical fashion of the mid 1740s.
In a carved and gilded William Kent frame ornamented with oak leaves and acorns.
The Sitter: Lettice Mary Banks (1716-1757) was the eldest daughter of Joseph Banks, M.P., of Revesby Abbey in Lincolnshire (1695-1741) and his first wife Anne Hodgkinson (d.1730). She had 2 younger sisters, Elizabeth and Margaret, two younger brothers and two little half-brothers. After the death of her father's second wife Catherine in 1736, Lettice seems to have become responsible for her younger siblings' welfare. Her second brother William, who inherited the estate, was the father of Joseph Banks (1743-1820), the botanist and traveller. For a brief history of the family, see Patrick O'Brian, Joseph Banks: A Life, London, 1986.
Joseph Banks owned extensive estates, thanks to his marriage to an heiress, and was MP for Peterborough from 1728 until 1734, and then High Sheriff of Lincolnshire.The family lived mostly at Revesby and Lincoln, but owned a house in St James's Square in London during Lettice's formative years while Joseph was in Parliament. Following the death of her older brother (also Joseph) in 1740 and her widowed father in 1741, the twenty-five-year-old Lettice seems to have taken responsibility for running the household. By her father's will she was appointed guardian of her two young half-brothers, Collingwood and George, and was also responsible for her sisters Elizabeth and Margaret. She would also, no doubt, have been involved in bringing up her nephew Joseph, (born 1743), who later travelled with Captain Cook and became Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society.
Lettice died at Revesby in September 1757. In her will she left everything to her unmarried sister Margaret: 'As by the blessing of God all my nearest and dearest relation are well provided for except my sister Margret [sic] Banks who is unmarried.' She also left 'a little cascade' [i.e. casket] with her jewellery, including 'snuffboxes', pinchbeck watch, onyx ring, 2 pair of mother of pearl earrings, one ring of diamonds, blue paste earrings and a 'french beed necklace.'A few weeks later, Margaret (remembered by her nephew Sir Joseph as 'one of the handsomest women of the age she lived in)' married the diplomat Henry Grenville, the brother of Earl Temple of Stowe.Bath Connections
The family were frequent visitors to Bath: Lettice's father was certainly there in 1734, suffering from gout, and his wife also seems to have benefited from taking the waters in 1728 and again in 1733. In the autumn of 1740, the year before he died, Banks was under the care of Dr Oliver, and at least one of his daughters was also with him, being supplied with 'Rhubarb potion' by Dr Harington. This portrait must date from after the death of Lettice's father. Another version was sold at Sotheby's in 1985 with a companion portrait of her little brother Collingwood, who looks about twelve years old. Collingwood died in 1755 while still a student at Oxford. It may be that either Lettice or Collingwood were already showing signs of the illness that made both of them die young, and they had come to Bath in the hope of a cure.
The canvas is beautifully framed in the type of Palladian or William Kent frame most often used by Hoare for portraits in this format, both oils and pastels. The simple architectural shape is ornamented with an egg-and-dart moulding and garlands of oak-leaves and carved acorns.
Attribution, dating and identification
Another version of this portrait was sold at:Christie's, 5 June 1925, Lot 162 (attributed to Highmore), with portraits of Lettice's brothers Collingwood Banks and William Banks.
Sotheby's, 13 March 1985, Lot 52, with a portrait of Collingwood (1734-1753)
Collingwood's apparent age of about 12 in the pendant gives a date of c.1746, when the family may well have been in Bath. This second version of the portrait, with its pendant of Collingwood, are now at the Hunstrete House Hotel, near Bath, still marked with their lot no. from the 1985 Sotheby's sale.
Hoare scholar Evelyn Newby (telephone conversation, 24 February 2003) suggests this version is a deliberate variant, rather than a slavish copy. It is more refined and elegant than the Holburne version, which is presumably a more honest likeness (Lettice shares the same strong, dark features as her much-portrayed nephew Sir Joseph). She dates both versions to mid to late 1740s, a time when Hoare did not have assistants, so he would have made both versions himself, perhaps for two different members of the family. She believes them to be definitely by Hoare. The handling of the pearls, silk and lace in the Holburne version is particularly fine.
Pickpocketing the Rich: Portrait Painting in Bath 1720-1800, exhibition catalogue, The Holburne Museum of Art, 2002, p. 40
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830
Oil paintings in the Holburne Museum
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830 » Art » The Portrait Business
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830 » Art » Hoare and his Contemporaries
Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830 » Leisure » Shopping & Fashion
|Method of acquisition||purchase|
|Provenance||Purchased in South Wales, 1984 or 1985 by Trim Bridge Galleries, Bath; from whom purchased by Mrs Christine Gordon, Chard; from whom purchased 2002 Trim Bridge Galleries, Bath; from whom purchased by the Holburne Museum, 2003.|
Title of exhibition: Pickpocketing the Rich: Portrait Painting in Bath 1720-1800