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Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart (1626-1698), with her First Husband, Sir Lionel Tollemache (1624-1669), and her Sister, Margaret Murray, Lady Maynard (c.1638-1682)

Joan Carlile (c.1606 - 1679)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

circa 1648

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

1092 x 927 mm (43 x 36 1/2 in)

Place of origin

England

Order this image

Collection

Ham House, Surrey

NT 1139727

Caption

Joan Carlile was one of the first Englishwomen to be recorded as a professional painter. Despite being referred to by a writer in 1706 as a copyist of Old Masters in favour with King Charles I, only her portraits of contemporaries have been reliably identified. This painting, of Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart (1626-98), with her first husband Sir Lionel Tollemache (1624-99) and her sister Margaret Murray, Lady Maynard (c.1638-1682), is one of her earliest known works and was probably painted c.1648, just before Elizabeth’s marriage. The Carliles were neighbours of the Murrays in Richmond, London.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Elizabeth Murray, Countess of Dysart (1626-1698), with her first Husband, Sir Lionel Tollemache (1624-1669), and her Sister, Margaret Murray, Lady Maynard (c.1638-1682), by Joan Carlile (c. 1606 - Petersham 1679), circa 1648. Three full-length portraits, two standing and one seated.Sir Lionel standing on left, turned to right, facing his wife Elizabeth Dysart standing centre, turned to right, her head glancing over her right shoulder, Lady Maynard, seated right, facing, looking slightly to right.

Full description

The artist's family were Richmond neighbours of the Murrays, and the park at Richmond is the likely setting of this painting. The two families were already acquainted through the court as Joan’s husband, Lodowick, and Elizabeth’s father, William Murray, were Grooms of the Privy Chamber and Bedchamber respectively to Charles I and Queen Henrietta Maria. Despite the awkward arrangement of the figures, described by Horace Walpole as ‘squab’, the individual heads are skilfully and delicately rendered, and the lustrous silk fabrics and jewels painted in a rapid, confident manner. The painting has an experimental quality and probably began life as a portrait of the two sisters. Conservation work in 2019 revealed a thinly painted tree trunk in the space between Lionel and Elizabeth, suggesting that the figure of Lionel may have been added as the composition progressed. Following her death Carlile was talked of as a noted copyist of Old Masters for the royal court. Her only known work today, however, is of her own invention and spans small portraits on panel or copper to a reduced type of full-length such as seen here.

Provenance

Seen by Horace Walpole in 1770; acquired in 1948 by HM Government when Sir Lyonel, 4th Bt (1854 – 1952) and Sir Cecil Tollemache, 5th Bt (1886 – 1969) presented Ham House to the National Trust, and entrusted to the care of the Victoria & Albert Museum, until 1990, when returned to the care of the National Trust, and to which ownership was transferred in 2002

Credit line

Ham House, The Dysart Collection (purchased by HM Government in 1948 and transferred to the National Trust in 2002)

Makers and roles

Joan Carlile (c.1606 - 1679), artist previously catalogued as attributed to Joan Carlile (c.1606 - 1679), artist previously catalogued as attributed to Caspar Netscher (Heidelberg 1639 – The Hague 1684), artist previously catalogued as attributed to William Dobson (bap. London 1611 - London 1646), artist previously catalogued as attributed to Daniel Mytens the elder (Delft c.1590 – The Hague 1648), artist

References

Walpole 1927-28 Paget Toynbee (ed.), 'Horace Walpole's Journals of Visits to Country Seats, etc.', 1760-62, Walpole Society XVI, 1927 -28 pp. 9-80 Waterhouse 1958 Ellis Waterhouse, The Collection of Pictures in Helmingham Hall, Helmingham Hall, 1958, p.20, no.43. Eade 2018 Jane Eade, ‘Rediscovering the 'worthy artiste Mrs Carlile’, National Trust Historic Houses & Collections Annual, 2018, pp.19-24

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