Historical Portraits Picture Archive

A portrait miniature enamel of Susannah Beckford (nee Love) dressed à la Turque in a white costume sprigged with pink flowers and green leaves... 1755

Gervase Spencer (fl.1740-63)

A portrait miniature enamel of Susannah Beckford (nee Love) dressed à la Turque in a white costume sprigged with pink flowers and green leaves..., Gervase Spencer
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Enamel on gold
18th Century
Oval, 52mm (2 1/16in) high
 
Provenance:
By family descent until 2009; Private Collection, USA.
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A portrait miniature enamel of Susannah Beckford (nee Love) dressed à la Turque in a white costume sprigged with pink flowers and green leaves and piped with lilac ribbon, a loose matching robe over the top, yellow buttons down her bodice and a green sash tied in front, white tucker, a black ribbon around her right wrist, a strand of pearls tied with a black ribbon around her throat, her light brown hair plaited and upswept beneath a yellow headdress and veil.

Gervase Spencer remains an elusive character, whose date of birth is not known. He was a gentleman’s servant before discovering a talent for painting. His work caught the eye of George Vertue who described him in 1740 as ‘a young man who not or a few years ago was in the capacity of a footman to Dr. W…-and now professes liming with some success. which demonstrates a Genius pratizing by degrees of himself – and really is in a curious neat manner and masterly’ . His work was commissioned by the royal family and nobility, and a portrait miniature by Spencer of George III is in the Royal Collection at Windsor.
Susannah Love was the last of the Love descendants to live at Basing Park, in the parish of Froxfield, East Hampshire, which had been in their possession since about 1567. As an heiress, Susannah came with a vast fortune, reported to be in the excess of £20,000 by the time she married the Jamaican land owner Francis Beckford (d.1768) in 1755. The couple did much to transform the Basing Park estate by nourishing the parkland and redesigning large areas, which would eventually be transformed into rose gardens with fountains and rock gardens. Either through lack of finances or interest, the estate was finally sold by their son, Francis Love-Beckford by 1813.
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