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A charming unfinished portrait of the artist's daughter Esther Maria, known as Estina, painted c. 1794-95.

Robert Fagan is one of the outstanding unconventional Irish talents who feature in 18th century British art.  His parents came to London from Cork and his father had a flourishing bakery business in Long Acre, at the centre of the country's artistic and cultural community.  Admitted to the Royal Academy Schools in 1781, he visited Rome later that year and by 1784 he was living there.  He painted portraits of fashionable English visitors, copied old masters and became an art dealer to the "milords".  He also began excavating and selling classical antiquities. 

In 1790 he married Anna Maria Aloisa Rosa Ferri (1773-1800) the daughter of an employee of the powerful Cardinal Rezzonico.  Their daughter Estina was born in 1792. 

By 1807 Fagan and his family had had to emigrate to Palermo in Sicily.  It was there that a rich young English visitor, William Baker, fell in love with Estina.  His family’s wealth derived from the Hudson’s Bay Company.  Having failed to prevent the marriage, Baker's father persuaded the foreign secretary, George Canning, to appoint Fagan consul-general for Sicily and Malta, a post for which he had for long been pestering Nelson and Sir William Hamilton; this was confirmed on 7 June 1809. On 2 August 1809, at Lord Amherst's house in Palermo, Estina then aged 17 married William Baker (1778-1813) of Bayfordbury. They had two sons (one of whom died in infancy) and a daughter.  William died in 1813 and in December 1820 the widowed Estina Baker married Francis Acton, nephew (and brother-in-law) of Sir John Acton, prime minister of Naples, by whom she had three sons.

This portrait of Estina descended in the Baker and Clinton-Baker family until sold at Christie's in 1945.  Robert Fagan's portrait of her mother is in the Tate Britain collection.

 

Dimensions

Oil on canvas, 88.2 x 74.2 cms.

Price on application



Open by appointment and at fairs

The BADA Standard

  • Since 1918, BADA has been the leading association for the antiques and fine art trade
  • Members are elected for their knowledge, integrity and quality of stock
  • Our clients are protected by BADA’s code of conduct
  • Our dealers’ membership is reviewed and renewed annually
  • Bada.org is a non-profit site: clients deal directly with members and they pay no hidden fees
Click here for more information on the BADA Standard