Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Penelope Cholmeley 1737

John Vanderbank (1694-1739)

Portrait of Penelope Cholmeley, John Vanderbank
Oil on canvas
18th Century
50 x 40 inches 127 x 101.2 cm
By descent within the Cholmeley family; Sir Hugh Cholmeley 5th Bt sale Robinson and Foster November 4th 1949 lot 139.
The technique of John Vanderbank is distinct among portraitists of the early eighteenth century. He trained under Sir Godfrey Kneller in 1711 and follows in the traditions of grand portraiture that had become part of Van Dyck's legacy to British painting. His work, however, is characterised by a more vital and nervous drawing than that of his contemporaries, and by a bold pigmentation, particularly in the flesh, where hot pink and cool grey-green are juxtaposed to suggest glowing skin -the technique of colori cangianti, derived via Rubens from the artists of the secento.

Penelope Cholmeley (ob.1760) was a sitter who deserved this bravura treatment, at least through pride and ancestry. She is recorded to have traced her descent in seven lines from three of the sons of Edward III, John of Gaunt, Lionel of Antwerp and Thomas of Woodstock. More immediately she was the daughter of Sir Joseph Herne of Twyford, and, through her mother, Penelope, daughter of Sir John Mordaunt Bt. of Massingham, descended from the Tollemaches of Helmingham, the Warburtons of Arley and the Bishopps of Parham.

She married John Cholmeley of Easton Hall, Lincolnshire, and was by him the grandmother of Sir Montague Cholmeley Bt of Easton, first of a line which continued to the present.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.