Portrait Of Susannah Papillon (1661-1707) C.1695; By Sir Godfrey Kneller Bt. (1646-1723) flag

Object description :

"Portrait Of Susannah Papillon (1661-1707) C.1695; By Sir Godfrey Kneller Bt. (1646-1723)"
This elegant large-scale portrait is a fine example of Sir Godfrey Kneller’s court-style depiction of aristocratic and wealthy women. Beautifully composed, the sitter is three quarter length and seated within a wooded landscape. Pastoral backgrounds imply a virtuous character of unpretentious sincerity undefiled by the possession of great wealth and estates. The sitter wears an azure dress with a russet cloak elegantly draped over her arm and around her body. In this picture, we can see Kneller’s technique at its best, the excellent drawing of the face. It is painted with a delicacy that contrasts with Kneller’s more usual bold manner. The sitter is also unencumbered by high fashion or a background of stately topography. The emphasis is instead placed directly on the alluring femininity, and enhanced by the loose drapery and falling hair around her shoulder. We can see how Kneller often allowed the bluer ground layer to show through when suggesting the darker flesh tones. In both techniques, we should bear in mind Kneller’s own advice, when rebuking those who peered at his works too closely, ‘My paintings were not made for smelling of…’, and yet here the sitter’s face bears even the closest scrutiny.

In accordance with the sitter's age, and the style of clothing and hair, this portrait can be dated to the 1690s. Traditionally this portrait is thought to represent Susannah Papillon (nee Gregory) who was born on 13th Feb 1699 and married John Gregory Esq. However, the portrait was painted before her birth; the sitter is almost definitely her mother, Susannah Henshaw Papillon (1661-1707). Indeed, a portrait of “Susannah Henshaw, 2nd Wife of Philipp Papillon” (oil on canvas, 49.6 in. x 40.2 inches), sold at Dorotheum on October 4, 2000 [Lot 389], bears a striking resemblance to the sitter in our portrait.

Susannah Henshaw was a daughter of George Henshaw, a merchant and diplomat who served as British Consul in Genoa (d.1724). In 1695 she married Philip Papillon MP (1660-1736) as his second wife. The Papillon’s were a line of politicians and land-owning gentry whose family home was Papillon Hall and Acrise Place, in Kent (a house dating from the 16th century and held by the family from 1664 to 1850 and 1946 to 1986). The couple had issue: Thomas Papillon (c.1696-c.1714), Elizabeth Papillon (c.1697-1729), Phillip Papillon (1698–1746), Susannah Gregory Papillon (13 Feb 1699–), and Sarah Papillon (born 1701). As the portrait was painted in the 1690s, and with the inclusion of the sweetbriar roses in her hand, a representation of love, this portrait was almost certainly painted to celebrate the occasion of her marriage in 1695.

The Papillons were Huguenots. Thomas Papillon was Captain of the Guard to Henri IV of France but he sent his family to England in 1588 to avoid persecution as Protestants. His second son David (d.1659), an architect and military engineer built Papillon Hall in Lubenham (Leicestershire) in about 1620. He married as his second wife Anne Marie Calandrini, whose family had fled Italy as Protestants. Thomas (d.1702) the eldest son of this marriage purchased Acrise Place, Kent in 1664. He was a prominent merchant and campaigner for civil and religious freedoms as M.P. for Dover and then for London. His son Philip (d.1736) was also M.P. for Dover and married the sitter in our portrait. In the early 18th century Papillon Hall ceased to be used by the family and was sold to yeomen graziers. In 1850 the Papillons sold Acrise to William Mackinnon MP after whose death it was sold in 1908 to the Walney family, who occupied it until 1936. After standing empty for a time the house was used by the Army during the war and repurchased by Mr. A.H. Papillon, a descendant of the estate's original owner around 1946. The Folkestone Building Company purchased the property in 1986 and undertook a major programme of restoration. The main house is now divided into two separate properties, Acrise Place and Acrise Court.

Although history records what became of the sitter’s husband (and his heir) it is not known which branch of the family held this portrait in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It is possible that a collection of art and furniture, which may have included this picture, was reassembled at the time of Acrise Place's re-acquisition around 1946.

The painting was recently located at Dewlish House, near Dewlish. The house is one of Dorset’s most beautiful country houses and is Grade I Listed. It was built in the Queen Anne/Georgian style in 1702 by Thomas Skinner, on the site of a large Roman villa. The property is set in 296 acres of picturesque parkland with farmland, forests, and a private lake. It was owned for two centuries by the Michel family and their descendants, including Sir John Michel, a notable soldier who served in the Crimean War. Anthony Boyden purchased the property in 1962, representing only the second time the property was sold in its 300-year history.

This exquisite painting is held in its outstanding original hand carved and gilded frame – a work of art in itself and is in excellent condition.

Sir Godfrey Kneller (1646-1723) dominates our understanding of British portraiture at the turn of the seventeenth century. With Van Dyck, Lely and Reynolds, his name has become synonymous with the visual interpretation of British history – not least because he painted almost every person of prominence in forty years of British public life. This reputation was well-deserved, and although Kneller's age embraced many accomplished painters - John Closterman, for example, Jonathan Richardson the Elder, or Michael Dahl- none came close to Kneller in immediate fame, or in such instant association in the popular mind with the exercise of portraiture. Kneller is remembered for having painted ten ruling sovereigns, including every reigning British monarch from King Charles II to King George I.

Born in Germany but trained in Amsterdam, he studied in Italy before moving to England in 1676. He ran a large, busy and successful studio in London and employed many assistants thereby establishing a routine that enabled a great number of works to be produced. His name became synonymous with British portraiture at the time and he rose to great notoriety; and there were countless other artists that strove to emulate his style. He received a knighthood from the King, an honour that had never been given to an artist. He died of a fever in London in 1723 and a memorial was erected in Westminster Abbey.

An impressed stamp on the stretcher “G Morrill Liner” indicates the painting was treated by the London liner George Morrill between 1857 and 1865. This studio was greatly respected and worked extensively for the National Gallery in London;

An impressed stamp on the stretcher “Hampton & Sons Pall Mall East SW Picture Restorers Liners & Frame Makers” indicates the painting was treated by the London restorers and antique dealers between 1871 and c.1940

Probably from the sitter at Acris Place, Kent and by descent;

Dewlish House, near Dewlish, Dorset

Height 147cm, Width 121cm framed (Height 57.75”, Width 47.75” framed)
Price : 16250 €
Artist : Par Sir Godfrey Kneller Bt. (1646-1723)
Period:17th century
Style:Louis 14th, Regency
Condition : Très bon état

Material : Huile sur toile
Length: 7
Width : 121
Height : 147

Reference : 794239
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Quality British and European Fine Art, 17th to 20th century
Portrait Of Susannah Papillon (1661-1707) C.1695; By Sir Godfrey Kneller Bt. (1646-1723)
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