Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait miniature of Frances Teresa Stewart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, 'La Belle Stuart' (1647-1702), after SAMUEL COOPER (1607/08-1672) 

Mrs Susan Penelope Rosse (b.c.1655-1700)

Portrait miniature of Frances Teresa Stewart, Duchess of Richmond and Lennox, 'La Belle Stuart' (1647-1702), after SAMUEL COOPER (1607/08-1672), Mrs Susan Penelope Rosse
Watercolour on vellum
17th Century
Oval, 89mm (3 1/2in) high
Bequeathed to the artist's husband, Mr Michael Rosse; His Sale, 3 April 1723, lot 72 (sold together with a limning of Charles II by Susannah-Penelope Rosse after Samuel Cooper); Ellen Harford nee Tower; Bequeathed to her daughter, Louise Emily Harford (1864-1945); Bequeathed to her son, Henry Hugh Arthur FitzRoy Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort KG GCVO KStJ PC (1900-1984); Christie's, London, 18 December 1990, lot 88; Bonhams, London, 22 March 1994, lot 35.
J. J. Foster, 1914-1916, Supplement, p.61, no.382 (fully attributed to Samuel Cooper); D. Foskett, Samuel Cooper 1609-1672, 1974, p.85. D. Foskett, Samuel Cooper and his contemporaries, 1974, p.102, ill.fig.196; D. Foskett, Collecting Miniatures, 1979, pp.126-7, ill.pl.25G. D. Foskett, Miniatures, Dictionary & Guide, (London, 1979) p. 126, pl 25G
National Portrait Gallery, Samuel Cooper and his Contemporaries, 1974, no.196.
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The present work is of great importance when evaluating both the artistic practices, as well as artistic communities, of portrait miniature painters in seventeenth-century England. Previously thought to be by Samuel Cooper, its relatively recent reemergence as a work by Susannah Penelope Rosse has greatly aided the understanding of her work and her association with Cooper and his circle.

A talented artist and daughter of Richard (known as ‘Dwarf’) Gibson, Susannah-Penelope did not need to work for a living, but produced portraits of family and friends which serve as an intimate record of her life. Although painting numerous well-to-do sitters, no doubt introduced to her by her parents, Rosse is perhaps best known for her exquisite copies of portraits by Cooper, George Vertue quoting: ‘as by these may bee seen; nobody ever copy’d him better’ (Vertue I, p.116). Rosses’s most celebrated copy is perhaps the unfinished portrait of the Duke of Monmouth as a boy [Duke of Buccleuch], after Cooper’s portrait of 1663-4 [Royal Collection].

The earliest mention of the present work is found in the sale of Rosse’s husband, the court jeweler Michael Rosse (fl.1670-1723), where it was sold as lot.72 along with another portrait of ‘King Charles [II]’ described as; ‘by Mrs. Rosse after Cooper’. At some point thereafter it became grouped with a portfolio of works which then came into the possession of Ellen Tower, whose lineage can be traced back to Thomas Tower of Lancashire (d.1659). It is thought that the Tower family had connections to Rosse’s father Richard Gibson, and it was to him that for many years the unsigned drawings were attributed – probably due to the fact that within the collection were also signed works by Gibson.

In 1914, in his catalogue raisonné of Cooper’s work, J.J. Foster fully attributes the collection of works, and more specifically the present example, to Cooper, although this can be immediately ruled out on both stylistic and logical grounds; it would, after all, make little sense for Cooper to copy an unfinished study. Ellen Tower married W.H. Harford, D.L, and their daughter, Louise Emily Harford (1864-1945), who inherited the miniature from her mother, married Henry Somerset, 9th Duke of Beaufort (1847-1924) in 1895. The miniature was then inherited by Henry Hugh Arthur FitzRoy Somerset, 10th Duke of Beaufort (1900-1984), whom lent it to the exhibition ‘Samuel Cooper and his Contemporaries’ at the National Portrait Gallery in 1974. In her book ‘Samuel Cooper: 1609-1672’, published to coincide with the exhibition, Daphne Foskett first suggested the attribution to Rosse, and crucially established that numerous other works, also in the Michael Rosse sale, were to be found amongst the Beaufort collection and thus must also have belonged to the Harford family.
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