Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Elegant Ladies and Gentlemen in a Formal Garden Setting 1736

Charles Philips (1703-47)

Elegant Ladies and Gentlemen in a Formal Garden Setting, Charles Philips
Oil on canvas
18th Century
62 x 53 inches (158 x 136 cm)
Private Collection of the Argentine Ambassador, London, 1910, Collection of Lady Elaine Rawlinson, 1949, With Lowndes Lodge Gallery, London, 1965
A vivacious picture alive with activity and story, Charles Philips's subjects are posed near a classical temple and against a Poussin - like landscape of reaching hilltops and windswept trees. Tucked into the far corner of the canvas, Philips has perched a villa in the distance, perhaps an allusion to a recent Grand Tour or travels to Italy. Family members are seen busying themselves with various diversions. In the foreground, a woman holds a fishing rod while a small boy wrestles with their catch. Beside them, a man attempts to persuade a woman to enter a boat, whilst the couple to their right are engaged in conversation. Philips has also incorporated animals into his composition; the older woman in the far right sits with a pet cat on her lap, while the younger woman in the centre of the arrangement strokes a deer. Due to architectural similarities between the structure pictured and the east portico of West Wycombe Park, the group depicted in this finely detailed conversation piece has traditionally been identified as a branch of the Dashwood family.

Charles Philips, the son of painter Richard Philips, was fortunate enough to receive the patronage of Frederick Prince of Wales upon his arrival in England. His association with the royal coterie resulted in his success amongst the fashionable circles of society which included the Duke of Marlborough and the Duke of Somerset. Philips produced a number of full-length portraits but his skill and attention to detail are best demonstrated in his conversation pieces. He created only a handful of outdoor group portraits which bear a similarity in style to ours. Quite frequently the purpose of these works was to record the completion of a structure as much as it was to take a likeness of the family associated with it. Of the artist''s conversation pieces the most striking are certainly Lord Portmore and Family (1731), The Savile Family at Rufford Abbey, and his depiction of The Marquis of Rockingham and Family at Wentworth Woodhouse.

This work at one time hung in the former residence of the Argentinean Ambassador to Britain at 2 Palace Gate, W1 between 1910 and 1916. It comprised part of a substantial collection of art, silver, tapestry and antiquarian books owned by the family of Vicente J. Dominguez, who had acted as envoys to this country since the mid-nineteenth century. It was passed by descent to Lady Elaine Rawlinson.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.