William Weddell (1736-1792), The Reverend William Palgrave (c. 1735 - 1799) and Mr Janson in Rome
Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland RA (London 1735 – Winchester 1811)
This portrait was painted for William Weddell, who is here shown wearing red, seated under a tree, indicating to his servant, Janson. William Palgrave, in blue, converses with him. Nathaniel Dance painted this in Rome, whilst Weddell was on his Grand Tour. Weddell apparently “[bought] such a quantity of pictures, marbles, etc. as will astonish the West Riding of Yorkshire.” The collection was destined for his house, Newby, which he had commissioned the Neo-Classical architect, Robert Adam, to enlarge. Adam also designed a gallery for the sculpture Weddell had acquired abroad. Dance was in Rome between 1754 and 1765, and from 1760 onwards he painted a number of groups of Englishmen on the Grand Tour. This, however, seems to have been the only portrait that he painted in the last year of his stay in Rome.
Oil painting on canvas, William Weddell (1736-1792), the Reverend William Palgrave and Mr Jansen in Rome by Nathaniel Dance-Holland RA (London 1735 – Winchester 1811), inscribed - N. Dance p. Rome 1765. Three full-length portraits, a scene in an Italian landscape with William Weddell, wearing red, seated under a tree in the centre with a black dog at his feet; William Palgrave, in blue, stands on the left, conversing with him, his left arm resting on the back of Weddell's seat. The latter indicates a young servant (according to the Upton catalogue his name was Janson) who stands with his cap in his left hand, right. It was the latest and largest conversation piece painted by the artist in Italy. Dance was in Rome between 1754 and 65 and from 1760 onwards painted a number of groups of Englishmen on the Grand Tour, notably Lord Grey and Sir Henry Mainwaring, Dunham Massey (NT). This seems, however to have been the only portrait that he painted in the last year of his stay in Rome, which he quitted in June 1765. William Weddell was the second son of Richard Weddell, who bought Newby from the Blackett family. In 1766, on his return from the visit to Italy during which Dance's portrait was painted, Weddell commissioned Adam to enlarge Newby and to design a gallery for the sculpture he had acquired abroad. The collection, still in the house, is now owned by Captain Compton. In 1771, Weddell married Elizabeth, daughter of Sir John Ramsden, 3rd Bt. He was M.P. for Kingston-on-Hull from 1766-74 and for Malton Borough from 1775 until his death in 1792, when Newby passed to his great-nephew, Thomas, 3rd Lord. Grantham, afterwards Earl de Grey. Busts of Weddell by Nollekens are at Newby and Ripon Minster, and a portrait by Batoni, painted in Italy in 1766, is at Newby. He died of a chill caught when bathing in the supposes Roman Bath in Strand Lane ( now NT, and – ironically - no longer thought to be Roman). The Rev. William Palgrave was the son of a physician at Norwich. He wasordained deacon in 1759, later becoming rector of Thrandeston and Palgrave in Suffolk. A friend of Thomas Gray's, the latter wrote to him when he was abroad in March 1765, advising him to keep a journal of the tour and suggesting a number of places he ought to visit on the way to Florence, where to be sure there is nothing worth seeing'. Palgrave also made a small collection of antiquities on this journey.
Painted for William Weddell; thence by descent in the family of his wife, Elizabeth Ramsden; Sir John Ramsden, 6th Bt, sale, Christie's, 27 May 1931, lot 58: bought by Martin for Lord Bearsted, for 315gns;given with Upton House to the National Trust by Walter Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted (1882 – 1948), in 1948, shortly before his death
Upton House, The Bearsted Collection (National Trust)
Marks and inscriptions
N. Dance p. Rome 1765
Makers and roles
Sir Nathaniel Dance-Holland RA (London 1735 – Winchester 1811), artist
Souvenirs of the Grand Tour, Wildenstein, London, 1982, no.21
Collins Baker and James, 1933: C. H. Collins Baker and Montague R. James, British Painting, London 1933, pl. 62 Ford 1974 Brinsley Ford, ‘James Byres, Principal Antiquarian for the English Visitors to Rome’. Apollo XCIX, June 1974, pp.446–61, p. 419