Whilst working from my kitchen table, with the Djanogly Gallery closed for the foreseeable future, I thought what better time to bring to light some of the art works in the University’s collection. Normally, these can be difficult for the general public to see because of where they’re displayed or because they are kept in store for their protection. Each week we’ll fetch one of those works ‘out of store’. – Neil Walker, Head of Visual Arts Programming
PORTRAIT OF LORD LINCOLN
By Rosalba Carriera (1673-1757)
The Venetian Rosalba Carriera (1673-1757), who made this beautiful pastel portrait, was one of the most celebrated and successful women artists of any era. Prominent visitors to Venice and the nobility flocked to her studio. Nor did she confine herself to her home city but worked for distinguished patrons at royal courts across Europe. A young Louis XV of France sat for her; King George III acquired a large collection of her works. Popular in her day for the flattering light in which she cast her subjects, her mastery of pastel helped transform the medium into a serious art form. As we see here, the technique leant itself particularly well to the depiction of shot silk, peachy skin and the fashionable coiffures of the eighteenth century.
When you meet the confident gaze of this young man’s eyes its hard not to wonder at the encounter between artist and sitter, although for Rosalba, who had seen so many faces pass before her, perhaps it was all just in another day’s work. The year is 1741, she is in her late 60s with failing eyesight; her sitter, the young buck Lord Lincoln, is twenty-one. Lord Lincoln, or to give him his full title Henry Fiennes Pelham-Clinton, 9th Earl of Lincoln, would in time become the 2nd Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyne. He is perhaps best remembered for his creation of Clumber Park. He was born into one of the wealthiest and most powerful families in the country with two uncles both serving as Prime Minister. This drawing was made on his Grand Tour of Europe - a sort of aristocratic gap year-cum-finishing school for the cultivated gentleman. Not only was he rich but also reckoned to be one of the most handsome men in England.
Whilst in Italy he hooked up with the future man of letters, Horace Walpole, also making his own way around the cities and cultural hotspots of the country. The two probably knew each other from their time at Eton and Cambridge and there has been some speculation about the nature of their relationship. Walpole’s most recent biographer believes that at the time they were lovers. There exists in another collection a companion portrait of Walpole also drawn by Rosalba when the two men were in Venice. In it, Walpole is shown wearing a brocaded blue silk coat that closely matches the one worn by Lord Lincoln.
Placed side by side the two portraits face each other with a symmetry that speaks of great intimacy.
Rosalba Carriera’s work came to the University in 1990 as part of a bequest of family portraits from the Newcastle Estate. It is rarely shown to preserve the freshness of its colour but was loaned to a major exhibition of the artist’s work in Venice in 2007 when posters featuring Lord Lincoln’s face were emblazoned across the city.
To find out more about Rosalba Carriera, and to see more of her artworks, visit Art UK's website.