Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of a Lady in a red dress c.1725 1725c.

Charles Jervas (16751739)

Portrait of a Lady in a red dress c.1725, Charles Jervas
Oil on canvas
18th Century
32 x 42 inches 81 x 105 cm
Swiss Private Collection
Although in this portrait the identities of the sitter and of the castle visible behind her remain uncertain, it is believed that the landscape represents a view in Ireland, where Jervas -an Irish-born artist- worked at times in 1715/16 and on a number of occasions after 1729. The landscapes in which Jervas places his sitters are frequently more than mere backdrops, but contain some relevant geographical or architectural detail to their sitter. The Portrait of Henrietta Howard Countess of Carlisle (English Heritage) is the most celebrated example of this practice, in which Marble Hill House and Pope's villa at Twickenham can be clearly seen. Similarly, Jervas's Portrait of the Duke of Newcastle in Garter Robes (Versions NPG 5582 and Historical Portraits) includes through a window a view of the Duke's castle at Bolsover in Derbyshire.

In the 1720s and 1730s Charles Jervas was considered the supreme practitioner of female portraiture. Works such as this, characteristic of his elegant manner, continued the idiom of Sir Godfrey Kneller, his master, whilst introducing a new ease into the repertoire. More than Kneller he executed works suggestive of informality and, in placing the sitter entirely within the landscape, Arcadian simplicity. As in this portrait, the sitter is displayed not only with youth and beauty, but with a sharp perceptiveness that belies her recumbent posture.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.