Chantry Fine Art Collection
Subject: Portrait of John Penn
Artist: John Hoppner RA (1758-
Provenance: A major portrait by the finest portraitist of his day -
Date: c1805 Size: 50”x 40” Condition: Excellent
Frame: Original Regency
Details: This magnificent portrait is by John Hoppner who, with Lawrence and Romney, was the leading portraitist of his day after the death of Reynolds in 1792.
He was alleged to be the illegitimate son of King George III, though this was never proven.
Nevertheless he trained as a chorister in the Chapel Royal and received an allowance from the king to study at the Royal Academy Schools. This favour and the fact that he received commissions for royal portraits as early as 1785 added fuel to the rumours.
Furthermore, in 1789 he was appointed Portrait Painter to the Prince of Wales (later George IV) and from then on he was closely associated with the Prince’s set.
He was elected to the Royal Academy and is represented in many British and American collections.
The portrait’s history is known from its commission circa 1805 by John Penn (1760-
Penn was a scholar with an interest in Theology. He went to Clare Hall, Cambridge as a nobleman (his mother was titled), became MA in 1779 and LLD in 1811. In 1792, just after the American War of Independence, he went to American and build a house named Solitude at Schuykill in Pennsylvania. But the call of his English estates saw him return to England in 1789.
He was appointed High Sherriff of Buckinghamshire in 1798 and became MP for Helston, Cornwall, in 1802. He was appointed Governor of Portland, Dorset, in 1805 and shortly before erected the mansion named Pennsylvania Castle on Portland Island. He was Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st (Eton) Troop of the 1st (South) Regiment of the Royal Bucks Yeomanry and Commandant of the Royal Portland Legion.
The portrait was painted circa 1805, almost certainly commissioned to be hung in the newly built Pennsylvania Castle. John Penn died in 1834 leaving the castle to his younger brother Granville. In turn Granville left it to his illegitimate son, Colonel Granville, who sold the estate in 1877.
J. Meyrick Head purchased the castle with all its historic contents from Granville.
Hoppner’s biographers, McKay and Roberts, mention on page 201 of this biography that a “lifesize portrait of John Penn by Hoppner” was in possession of J.Meyrick Head of Pennsylvania Castle. Thereafter, photostat and photographic records in the Witt Library of the Courtauld Institute in London show its subsequent history to be:
At the Knoedler London Galleries -
Bought at Christies’ by Chantry Fine Art of Northampton.
A major portrait by the finest portraitist of his day, with a clear provenance throughout its life and with great American interest.
It is in excellent condition and is housed in a magnificent, original, Regency frame in fine condition
Please note the following: Chantry Fine Art are happy to supply buyers with a photographic image of this item and believe that all of the details given are correct to the best of their knowledge. Buyers may wish to carry out their own research and again, Chantry Fine Art are more than happy to supply any information that might assist -
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