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Catherine Bruce, Mrs William Murray (d.1649)

Sir Anthony Van Dyck (Antwerp 1599 - London 1641)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

circa 1620 - 1641

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

1355 x 1080 mm

Place of origin

England

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Collection

Petworth House and Park, West Sussex (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Petworth House and Park, West Sussex, London and South East, National Trust

NT 486240

Caption

Catherine Bruce was the redoubtable wife of William Murray, later 1st Earl of Dysart, who was a childhood friend of Charles I and shared his artistic interests. Part of the 1st Earl’s collection survives at Ham House (National Trust). He would have known the 10th Earl of Northumberland, and this may explain the presence at Petworth of this portrait, which was listed at Northumberland House in 1671. Catherine had five daughters by him, but no son. Family tradition maintains that three of them, Katherine, Anne and Margaret, were hunchbacks, and this is confirmed by a contemporary, Thomas Knyvet, who wrote in 1644 that ‘the other three sisters are pitifull crooked things.’

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Catherine Bruce, Mrs William Murray (d.1649) by Sir Anthony Van Dyck (Antwerp 1599 - London 1641). A three-quarter-length portrait, turned slightly to the left, gazing at the spectator, wearing a sea-green mantle, with a leaf-brown bodice and white sleeves. Her left hand is clasping her mantle in front, whilst her right touches some roses on a parapet at left. In the background is a deep red hanging with a rock behind the figure and sky and a landscape at left. The redoubtable wife of William Murray, later 1st Earl of Dysart (created in 1643), who was a childhood friend of Charles I and shared his artistic interests. Part of the 1st Earl, collection survives at Ham House, Richmond (National Trust). He would have known the 10th Earl of Northumberland, but this may explain the presence at Petworth of this portrait, which was listed at Northumberland House in 1671.

Provenance

One of the original four three-quarter length female portraits in the collection and recorded at Suffolk House in 1652 (with Lady Newport, Mrs Murray, 'another lady in a light blew garmit') at Northumberland House in 1671 and at Petworth in 1775. Thence by descent, until the death in 1952 of the 3rd Lord Leconfield, who had given Petworth to the National Trust in 1947, and whose nephew and heir, John Wyndham, 6th Lord Leconfield and 1st Lord Egremont (1920-72) arranged for the acceptance of the major portion of the collections at Petworth in lieu of death duties (the first ever such arrangement) in 1956 by H.M.Treasury.

Credit line

Petworth House, The Egremont Collection (acquired in lieu of tax by HM Treasury in 1956 and subsequently transferred to the National Trust)

Makers and roles

Sir Anthony Van Dyck (Antwerp 1599 - London 1641), artist

References

Larsen, 1988: Eric Larsen, The Paintings of Anthony Van Dyck, 2 vols., Freren, 1988, pp.485-6, illus p.485 pp.485-6 A221/2) Wood 1994 Jeremy Wood, 'Van Dyck and the Earl of Northumberland: Taste and Collecting in Stuart England' ed. by Susan J. Barnes and Arthur K. Wheelock Jr. Studies in the History of Art. 46. Van Dyck 350, Washington, 1994, pp.281-324: p.291

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