About the dealer

About the object

Gouache on vellum, in the original swept frame with labels attached, inscribed on a former label: ‘…ell Pinxt…about the year 1756.’

Sotheby’s, London, 22 March 1979, lot 84; Davis & Long Company, New York, British Watercolours 1 - 29 November 1980, ex. catalogue; Private collection, U.S.; Paul F. Walter, New York, until 2017.

This very rare eighteenth-century rural conversation piece on vellum has a fine level of painted detail and is presented in its original frame.

Major Francis Longe (1726–1776), the owner of the Elizabethan Spixworth Hall, just north of Norwich, is shown on his return from shooting, presenting his wife, Tabitha, with a bag containing a live leveret, a symbol of love. His dog peers around the door from the park, a spaniel lies at his mistress’s feet and their eight-year-old son, also Francis, stands next to his mother.

The attribution to Thomas Bardwell is based upon stylistic grounds as well as the inscription on the (now lost) label which accompanied it into the late twentieth century. While the Government Art Collection and the Geoffrey Museum, London, hold oil portraits by Bardwell, this is his only work on vellum in this scale. It is a truly unique example of the more modest, domestic style of portraiture popular with middle-class patrons in the eighteenth century.



28 x 24 cm