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Ashe Windham, MP (1673-1749)

Sir Godfrey Kneller (Lübeck 1646/9 - London 1723)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1689

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

1320 x 1020 mm

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Collection

Felbrigg, Norfolk (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk, East of England, National Trust

NT 1401174

Caption

Ashe Windham, who inherited Felbrigg, where this portrait hangs, was unlucky in love. His first fiancée, Hester Buckworth, daughter of John Buckworth, 1st Bt., died when he was on the point of marrying her in 1708, and it was on the rebound from this that he made his disastrous marriage to the heiress Elizabeth Dobyns a little over a year later. Ashe had set off on his Grand Tour in 1693. On his return, the Dean of Norwich, Humphrey Prideaux, described him as a ‘young gentleman of a very considerable estate in this country, but, having and Italian education, is all over Italiz’d,: that is, an Italian as to religion, I mean a down right atheist; and Italian in politics, that is, a Commonwealth man; and an Italian I doubt [suspect] in his morals, for he cannot be persuaded to marry.’

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Ashe Windham MP (1673-1749), by Sir Godfrey Kneller (Lübeck 1646/9 - London 1723), 1689. Three-quarter-length portrait of a young man, standing portrait turned to his right, wearing a brown cloak over a blue coat, background of trees. Possibly painted in the lifetime of his father, William Windham I, and definitely before he embarked on the Grand Tour, 1693-6. Ashe Windham was the eldest son of William Windham and Katherine Ashe, and later, husband of Elizabeth Dobyns. Probably painted in the early 1690s, as proposed by J. Douglas Stewart, but possibly - if the costume allows - even as early as 1689, in view of the fact that there is no payment for this picture in his mother's accounts, and of the possibility that it is an ad vivum portrait of his father. Some guidance might be available from what J Douglas Stewart, Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1983, pp.77, n.87 mentions as a similar portrait of the 4th Earl of Roxburghe at Floors - the 4th Earl died in 1693. On the other hand, if is is as was already believed in 1784, the sitter's next brother, William, who was born only a year after him, and if that picture can really be linked with the payments of 1696 and 1697, the present picture cannot have been painted all that many years before, since the sitter in this looks little, if any, younger than the sitter in that. Yet it would also seem likely that his mother would have had him painted before he set off on the Grand Tour, which he did in the summer of 1693, rather than waiting until he got back; whilst, since he did not return until 1696, he would by then have been too old to be the sitter shown here. All in all, a date some time between 1689 and 1693 seems most likely. A further argument for its having been painted just before he embarked on the Grand Tour in 1693, is that in pose and dress it is virtually identical to a studio version of a Kneller portrait of his cousin and neighbour, Charles, 2nd Viscount Townshend (1675-1738), who went on the Grand Tour from July 1694 to October 1697 (National Portrait Gallery 1983, exhibition catalogue Norfolk and the Grand Tour , by Andrew W. Moore, Norfolk Museums Service, 1985, cat.no.1). Ashe Windham made his Grand Tour with a professional bear-leader, Patrick St. Clair (1659-1755), a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, who subsequently became vicar of Aylmerton and helped run the Felbrigg estate. He travelled on an allowance fixed at £600 per annum, but his itinerary is not known. Not long after his return, he was described by the Dean of Norwich, Humphrey Prideaux, in a letter of 29 December, 1699, as: "a young gentleman of a very considerable estate in this country, but, having an Italian education, is all over Italiz'd,: that is, an Italian as to religion, I mean a down right atheist; an Italian in politics, that is, a Commonwealth man; and an Italian I doubt [= suspect] in his moralls, for he cannot be persuaded to marry." (exh.cat. p.19). Unlucky in matrimony - his first fiancée, Hester Buckworth, daughter of Sir John Buckworth, 1st Bt. (1662-1709) of West Sheen FEL/P/147, died when he was on the point of marrying her in 1708, and it was on the rebound from this that he made his disastrous marriage to the heiress Elizabeth Dobyns a little over a year later.

Provenance

thence by descent to Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer (1906 - 1969), by whom bequeathed to the National Trust in 1969. Part of the Windham Collection. The hall and contents were bequeathed to the National Trust in 1969 by Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer (1906-1969)

Makers and roles

Sir Godfrey Kneller (Lübeck 1646/9 - London 1723)

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