caption

attributed to Benjamin Wilson, Susanna (née Robinson) Lady Delaval

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All rights reserved)

Details

Country House
Doddington Hall
Title(s)
Susanna (née Robinson) Lady Delaval
Date
c.1760
Location
Long Gallery
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Overall height: 236 cm, Overall width: 147 cm
Artist
attributed to Benjamin Wilson (1721-1788)
Catalogue Number
DN86
Inscription
  • Lettered bottom left 'Susannah Lady Delaval'

Description

Susannah Robinson (1730–1783) was the cousin and first wife of Sir John Hussey Delaval (1728–1808), who remodelled the interior of Doddington in the 1760s. Susannah, then widowed, married Sir John on 2 April 1750. She was the mother of John Hussey Delaval (1756–1775), Sir John’s son and heir, who died of consumption in Bath at the age of twenty-one.

The portrait has been attributed traditionally to William Bell (1740–1804), whose portraits of the teenage John Hussey Delaval, in a red Van Dyck costume with a bow and arrow, attended by a black page,1 as well as a portrait of Susannah Robinson as Venus, are located at Seaton Delaval (fig. 1). However, on grounds of style and dating, the attribution to Bell is not tenable.

1770. Oil on canvas, 236.2 x 144.8. National Trust, Seaon Delaval Hall (1276760).

Figure 1.
William Bell, Susanna Robinson, Lady Delaval as Venus, beside an urn on a pedestal, in a landscape setting, 1770. Oil on canvas, 236.2 x 144.8. National Trust, Seaon Delaval Hall (1276760).


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

The present composition is in fact based on an earlier portrait in the Drawing Room at Doddington (DN53) of Rhoda Apreece, Mrs Francis Blake Delaval, by Arthur Pond, and a related second version of the same sitter, also attributed tentatively to Pond at Seaton Delaval.2 In the earlier portraits of Rhoda Apreece the sitter’s ermine-edged mantle is blue and the drapery behind is red, whereas in the present portrait of Susannah the mantle is red and the drapery is green. The technique and handling of the portrait is also quite different. A possible attribution to Benjamin Wilson is suggested here, with a date of c.1760.

by Martin Postle

Footnotes

  1. NT 1276756.

    1
  2. NT 1276768.

    2

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