caption

John Vanderbank, Elizabeth Ludlow, wife of Phillip Hawkins II

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)

Details

Country House
Trewithen
Title(s)
Elizabeth Ludlow, wife of Phillip Hawkins II
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Overall height: 172 cm, Overall width: 107 cm
Artist
John Vanderbank (1694-1739)
Catalogue Number
TN31
Inscription
  • Centre
  • Signed and dated centre left 'Jo Vanderbank/Fecit./1732'

Description

The portrait depicts Elizabeth Ludlow, daughter of a London wine merchant, John Ludlow. On 9 May 1728 she married Philip Hawkins II (? 1700–1738), the owner of Trewithen.1 The portrait is the pendant to a portrait of Philip (TN33), also by John Vanderbank. Both portraits are incorporated into plaster frames on the wall either side of the fireplace in the Dining Room. It appears that Thomas Hawkins (1724–1766), who inherited the property from his uncle Philip, dictated that these family portraits, along with another portrait thought to be of Philip II (TN32), should be displayed in the new Dining Room designed by Robert Taylor in the early 1760s.

Vanderbank worked as a portrait painter and illustrator. He was one of the first students at Sir Godfrey Kneller’s academy and in 1720, with Louis Cheron, he set up a short-lived new academy described as ‘The Academy for the Improvement of Painters and Sculptors by drawing from the Naked’.2 According to the engraver George Vertue, while Vanderbank possessed ‘superior merit in drawing, greatness of pencilling, spirit and composition’, his untimely death in his mid-forties was occasioned by ‘his irregular living (of women and wine)’.3 And although he was clearly talented, he depended heavily on stock poses and the drapery painting of Joseph van Acken.

This portrait of Elizabeth Ludlow in a grand classical setting shows a slight stiffness in the handling of the face, but the composition is elegant and the drapery is superb. The pose of the upper body and arms is similar to that given to Catherine Collingwood (d. 1761), Lady (Robert) Throckmorton (fig. 1), and the pose combined with an interaction with a dog also occurs in the double portrait of Anne and Mary Tonson (fig. 2). The inclusion of lapdogs in portraits of women, and usually larger dogs alongside those of men, was an established trope in portraiture well before the eighteenth century. A dog traditionally symbolised fidelity – to a spouse or country – but also no doubt represented a pet of sentimental value to the sitter, as it seems to be in this portrait.

Catherine Collingwood, Lady Throckmorton

Figure 1.
John Vanderbank, Catherine Collingwood, Lady Throckmorton, 1737. Oil on canvas, 124.5 x 101.6 cm. National Trust, Coughton Court (135567).


Digital image courtesy of National Trust Images (NT991101). (All rights reserved)

1734. Oil on canvas, 85.4 x 130.6 cm. Museums Sheffield (VIS.379).

Figure 2.
John Vanderbank, Anne and Mary Tonson, 1734. Oil on canvas, 85.4 x 130.6 cm. Museums Sheffield (VIS.379).


Digital image courtesy of Museums Sheffield/Bridgeman Images (SAG186626). (All rights reserved)

The inventory of March 1928 describes the present portrait, located in the Dining Room, as ‘Elizabeth Ludlow, wife of Philip Hawkins by J. Vanderbank 1738 and companion picture of Philip Hawkins M.P. B.1700 D.1738, by J. Vanderbank 1738, framed in wall, 72in by 42in’. The correct date, as the inscription on the portraits indicate, is 1732.

by Emily Burns

Footnotes

  1. The Historical Register . . . for the Year 1728, vol. 13, p. 26.

    1
  2. Judy Egerton, ‘Vanderbank, John (1694–1739)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004, http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/28067 (accessed 25 July 2017).

    2
  3. George Vertue, ‘Note Books III’, The Walpole Society, vol. 22, 1934, pp. 97–8.

    3

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