Monday, January 9, 2012

Does the General not exist?

This has NEVER happened to me before. My sleuthing has left me empty handed!!

A Gilbert Stuart painting of a male, in a fine red uniform, is up for auction at Christie's this coming January 26. If one is willing to shed a minimum of $25,000. one may offer up a bid; the price is determined to be somewhere between $25,000. to $35,000. This dashing warrior is named General R. Grenville.

But I can NOT find "General R. Grenville 1745-1823" anywhere. He is not listed in any known source (to me) of Stuart paintings including of course the Lawrence Park volumes and George Mason. I can not find him anywhere on the internet. What?? A General that can not be found...on the internet? How possible is that? Usually any individual that was painted by Stuart had mounds of money and connections, and should be able to be found!

Is there no frame on the canvas? No date is provided for when the portrait was done, nor location. All rather odd.

If any of my readers has some information, please send it on over. !! If you plan to submit an offer on this portrait, which seems to have in fact all the hallmarks of a Stuart, I would check with the experts first. The man has a fancy name, but may not be who one thinks he is. !! And certainly there are/were expert copiers out there, willing to pass off a fake Stuart, I would imagine. Why does the history of the painting begin c. 1946? And what also raises my suspicion is that there are no other 'Grenvilles' painted by the master. Yes my Meeker was not listed by Park or Mason, but there was a Stuart painting of William Meeker listed in Park. That, in addition to my Provenance (click here for the history of ownership of the Meeker painting) from day one (Samuel gifted his portrait to his twin sister Phoebe on their 40 birthday--well ok the birthday part is my theory), is ample proof that Samuel is the genuine thing. Also in the above portrait, there is an inscription in the lower left naming the sitter. That was not usual for Stuart to do, although perhaps someone else painted in the inscription at a later date.

There is a Providence of 'General R. Grenville 1745-1823' , but what is left out is significant. This information is courtesy of Christie's. As is the image of the portrait of the general above.

Provenance (quoted directly from Christie's)
Captain Richard Neville, Butleigh Court, Glastonbury; Christie's, London, 5 April 1946 lot 58 (380 gns. to Polak).with Leggatt Brothers, London, 1953, where purchased byDaniel H. Farr.Anonymous sale; Sotheby's, London, 24 November 1965, lot 74 (£1400 to J. Maas).Vincent Price.with Sears, Roebuck and Co., Chicago, 1966, from whom purchased by the present owners. PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF DR. AND MRS. FRANCIS D. FOWLER


Anonymous said...

Mary Smyth1
F, #13586, d. 15 December 1757

Last Edited=18 May 2008
Mary Smyth was the daughter of James Smyth.1 She married Rt. Hon. James Grenville, son of Richard Grenville and Hester Temple, Countess Temple, in 1740.1 She died on 15 December 1757.
Her married name became Grenville.
Children of Mary Smyth and Rt. Hon. James Grenville

General Richard Grenville1 d. 27 Apr 1823
James Grenville, 1st Lord Glastonbury1 b. 6 Jul 1742, d. 26 Apr 1825


[S21] L. G. Pine, The New Extinct Peerage 1884-1971: Containing Extinct, Abeyant, Dormant and Suspended Peerages With Genealogies and Arms (London, U.K.: Heraldry Today, 1972), page 44. Hereinafter cited as The New Extinct Peerage.


StimmeDesHerzens said...

So we know the general existed, and was from the English nobility it seems. That would point to having the funds for the portrait....perhaps it was painted during the time Stuart was in England (when he painted the Skater etc). His dress should be studied for a more exact timing of the commission. A more precise/earlier history of ownership would be helpful. Without acknowledgment of the portrait by either Park or Mason, a purchaser should consult with the experts (Barratt, Miles). If they give their "yes" on authenticity then this info should be included about the painting when offered up for auction.

Anonymous said...

ystakRichard Grenville joined the army in 1759 and served in America from 29th Apr 1776 to 4 Jul 1777 which is when I suspect this painting was commissioned. He was a wealthy man and would have become the second Lord Glastonbury if he had outlived his older brother.
Pity the painting was so expensive, it would have been nice to bring it home.

StimmeDesHerzens said...

Stuart left for London in 1775, and he was very young at this point and not doing portraits such as this yet; in London he started training with Benjamin West (5 yrs in his studio). Success came with his portrait of the Skater, 1782. So a Richard Grenville may have existed, but I think the man in this portrait is perhaps in his 40s? A commission of this portrait in 1777 is not possible. So timing is not correct...It must be a later generation...

Bruce Trewin said...

It may have been painted later but 'costumed' with the generals' uniform from his service years.

Site Meter