Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait enamel of Mrs Mary Manners-Sutton (née Thoroton) (1756-1832) , wearing yellow dress with white lace underdress, her light brown hair curled and worn upswept 

Henry Bone RA (1755-1834)

Portrait enamel of Mrs Mary Manners-Sutton (née Thoroton) (1756-1832) , wearing yellow dress with white lace underdress, her light brown hair curled and worn upswept, Henry Bone RA
Enamel on copper
19th Century
Oval, 1 ¾ in. (44 mm.) high
Peter Kaufmann Collection; Sotheby’s, London, 13th October 1975, lot 41, sold as Lady Anne Manners Sutton; Sotheby’s, London, 20th July 1981, lot 34, Twiston Davies Collection, sold as Lady Anne Manners Sutton; Kunsthandel Hannelore Plötz-Peters, Berlin.
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Although there has been some confusion as to the identity of this sitter, having been previously sold as a portrait of Lady Anne Manners-Sutton (née Copley) (1765-1814), daughter of Sir Joseph Copley, 1st Baronet, this portrait enamel by Henry Bone depicts Mary Manners-Sutton, wife of Charles Manners-Sutton (1755-1828), Archbishop of Canterbury. Bone’s inscription on the counter-enamel states that this portrait was painted ‘after a miniature’, possibly by Ozias Humphry, however, the original work is currently untraceable.

This portrait enamel is one of five extant variants by Henry Bone, all dating to the latter half of 1829 and all of ‘Mrs Manners Sutton’. However, another variant, dating to November 1829, was sold as a pair with a portrait of Mary Manners-Sutton’s husband Charles Manners-Sutton, also dating to 1829. Her husband’s portrait was erroneously inscribed on the counter-enamel by Bone as being painted in the last year of Charles Manners-Sutton’s role as Archbishop. It is therefore highly likely that, following the Archbishop’s death in 1828, commemorative portraits of the Archbishop and his wife were produced as commissioned pairs by Bone. It is not surprising that Bone worked from an existing miniature of Mary Manners-Sutton as, not only would she have been over seventy years old at the time Bone produced this enamel, but her husband’s portrait is also after an oil painting - John Hoppner’s three-quarter-length portrait, depicting Charles Manners-Sutton in Dean’s robes, in the Royal Collection [RCIN 400557].

Mary was the daughter of Thomas Thoroton of Screveton in Nottinghamshire and she married her cousin Charles Manners-Sutton, later the Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1778. The couple had two sons, their eldest son Charles Manners-Sutton (1780-1845) went on to become a Speaker for the House of Commons from 1817 to 1834, and ten daughters. Mary Manners-Sutton died in Gloucester Place in London aged seventy-six, having outlived her husband.

Henry Bone was a leading miniaturist of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Born in Truro in 1755, he was the son of a cabinet-maker and learnt to paint first on china in Plymouth whilst working for the Cookworthy factory. He apprenticed in Bristol under Richard Champion and then moved to London where he worked on designing jewellery and later began painting portrait miniatures, following the advice of John Wolcot (the satirist Peter Pindar). From 1781 he began exhibiting his work at the Royal Academy, at first using watercolour on ivory and later moving towards the technique of enamelling. In 1780 he married Elizabeth Van der Meulen and they had several children, five of which (including Henry Pierce Bone) became miniaturists. From 1800 Henry Bone was appointed enamel painter to the Prince of Wales and then subsequently to George III, George IV and William IV.

Bone is most famous for his ambitious copies of oil paintings, which he produced through visiting private collections where he would sketch in pencil a picture onto squared paper. These drawings would be the exact size of the enamel he intended to produce. He would then trace this image onto another sheet of paper coated with red chalk, under which the enamel plaque would be laid. The plaque would then be fired to fix the chalk outline and colouring could then begin; an enamel could be fired up to twelve times and could take three years to complete.

Working from other miniaturists’ portraits, Bone was successfully able to translate meticulous detail from watercolour on ivory into the challenging medium of enamel. Although the original portrait miniature of Mary Manners-Sutton, from which this enamel was painted, is now lost, Bone’s skill at reinventing a portrait in enamel can certainly be commended in the present work.
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