"Dated 1736 Portrait Of A Lady With A Dove; Signed Willem Verelst (c.1704-1752)"This work represents an accomplished artist at his very best. It has been signed and dated “Wm Verelst Pinxit 1736”. A portrait that was formerly identified as the Earl of Chesterfield by the artist sold for £31,070 and a portrait of a boy, full-length, in a pale red silver embroidered coat, waistcoat, and breeches (signed and dated 1738) sold for £26,000 at Christies London 11th June 2002. The Verelst dynasty of painters included at least ten family members over three generations.
This exquisite large-scale work is a very accomplished example of the type of portrait that was in vogue in 18th century England. Much of the beauty of this elegant portrait resides in its graceful composition and the tender way in which the lady has been depicted – this work is essentially a representation of female beauty.
Beautifully composed, the lady is seated in beside a table with two books and a blue curtain swag above. The large diamond hair jewellery would have been a costly item. The painting abounds with ingenious flourishes and demonstrations of the painter's skill and superior pictorial technique. Verelst’s adeptness and painterly virtuosity are evident in the finely rendered facial features, hands, the dove, and the beautifully rendered shimmering drapery and cuffs. Our portrait is an example of the artist at his very best and is perhaps the finest example from his ouevre. Held in its good quality 18th century hand carved gilded frame.
It is not known if a companion portrait was painted but it is worth noting that there are at least three signed male portraits by the artist from the same year (1736). They are:-
Theodore Jacobsen (architect, Master of the Steel Yards, and philanthropist);
Captain Wynter (Surveyor to the Navy) (Private collection 1965, The Manor House, Hazelbury Bryan, Dorset);
William Proctor (sold Christies 30th May 1980, lot 66)
Willem Verelst (baptised 1704 – 1752) was a painter of portraits and conversation pieces to a very high standard. His overall style along with the faces are quite easily recognised. Born in London from a family of painters, he was the fifth of eight children of John Verelst (c.1676-1704), who was also a painter, and his wife Ann Tureng. He is sometimes, erroneously, described as the son of Simon Pietersz Verelst (1644–1710). Willem presumably studied with his father and his work is close to his father’s manner. His signed works appear from 1732 onwards. His most ambitious work, perhaps, was a 35 figure group portrait ‘Representation of the audience given by the trustees for establishing the colonee of Georgia in America, to Tomo Chachi Mico of Yamacran and his Indians on the 3rd day of July in the Year of our Lord 1734’ (Winterthur Museum Delaware). He may have received this commission through his eldest brother Herman (born c.1693) who was the accountant for Georgia council. Willem also painted a high-quality painting of Catherine Clive “Kitty” (1711–1785), a star of the London stage, in 1740.
Provenance: Christies sale 17th February 1984, Lot: 111
Measurements: Height 146cm, Width 120cm framed (Height 57.5”, Width 47.5” framed)