Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Mary Fitzgerald, Dowager Countess of Fingall , c.1735

Enoch Seeman (1694-1744)

Portrait of Mary Fitzgerald, Dowager Countess of Fingall, Enoch Seeman
Oil on canvas
18th Century
50” x 40” (127cm x 101.5cm)
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The present portrait is of Mary Fitzgerald (d.1741) who married Justin Plunket, fifth Earl of Fingall in 1731 becoming dowager Countess of Fingall. On Plunket’s death Fitzgerald married again, to Sir Valentine Browne, 5th Bt (1695-1736), and on his death to her third husband John Bellew, 4th Baron Bellew of Duleek (1702-1770). Mary Fitzgerald died on the 19th March 1741/2 in London.

It is most likely that this portrait was painted following the death of Plunkett in 1734 and prior to Mary’s marriage to second husband Browne in 1735, which would explain the black mourning clothes.

Enoch Seeman was brought to London at an early age by his father, who had previously been settled as a painter in Danzig. Styled initially as 'Enoch Seeman junior' he established himself in St Martin's Lane where he enjoyed early popularity as a portraitist. As early as 1717, for example, he executed full-length portrait of George I (Middle Temple). He continued to expand his practice, which remained substantial throughout his career until his death in 1744. In common with the mass of his contemporaries he employed a repertoire of stock poses and his work remains extremely distinctive. Wisely Seeman priced his portraits significantly lower than many of his fellows: at twenty guineas for a full-length in 1732 he asked roughly a half of what many painters were charging for such a canvas during the same period. He retained royal patronage as well as that of the nobility and gentry, and painted George II and his consort, Queen Caroline, the latter picture now being in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

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