Portraits paired up
TWO Georgian portraits that are almost identical in content following a re-working will be displayed together for the first time in an exhibition at Wallington.
The paintings of Susanna ‘Suky’ Trevelyan and Charlotte Walpole, the Countess of Dysart, show both ladies in identical poses wearing fairytale white and gold satin dresses with cascading ringlets. But questions still remain as to how they came to be so similar.
Thomas Gainsborough originally did the artwork of ‘Suky’, which hangs in the house at Wallington, in 1761.
Last year the National Trust revealed that Trevelyan family rumours that the original portrait had been over-painted were in fact true. The painting was the subject of extensive re-working, with approximately 80 per cent of the original having undergone change.
It is not known yet whether the adaptations were made by the brush of Sir Joshua Reynolds or one of the artists working for him at the time. However, it has been shown that Reynolds directed the change, as the dress in a portrait by the artist of Charlotte Walpole in 1775, which usually hangs in the trust’s Ham House in Richmond-upon-Thames, is almost identical to the one of Suky.
Lloyd Langley, House and Collections Manager at Wallington, said: “It is extraordinary that we have in our collection a painting potentially by not one, but two of England’s greatest artists, which is unusual and of great interest.
“Last year, we were delighted to be able to prove scientifically that the over-painting of Suky was not just a rumour.
“To be able to display this painting for the first time alongside the almost identical painting of Charlotte Walpole and share the story of this discovery with our visitors is fantastic.”
The exhibition, called ‘A Tale of two Dresses’, will not only display the paintings side by side but also reveals the scientific work of Nicola Grimaldi of the Conservation Department at Northumbria University and shows just what it was in Suky’s portrait that was over-painted.
Mr Langley added: “We were told last year that up to 80 per cent of the Suky painting was re-worked but now we know a lot more about what was in the original picture.
“X-rays show that she was, in fact, wearing a hat and a Van Dyke style blue dress with extravagant ruffles and she was holding a little white dog, similar to those in other paintings we have at Wallington commissioned by Sir Walter Calverly Blackett, Suky’s uncle.”
The Trevelyan family story goes that the changes were ordered following a dismissive comment by the influential 18th-century social commentator and agriculturist, Arthur Young, who referred to the work as ‘a painting of hat and ruffles’ on a visit to Wallington some time between 1768 and 1770.
A Tale of Two Dresses will run from Saturday to Sunday, July 1. The house is open daily, except Tuesdays, from noon to 5pm - last entry at 4pm. For more information about the exhibition, telephone 01670 773600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To mark its opening, special performances featuring costumes from the period will take place at 12.30pm and 2.30pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Visitors to Wallington on Sunday can also enjoy music from the North Tyneside Pipe Band between 2pm and 4pm.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Morpeth
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 11 C
Wind Speed: 23 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 6 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 9 mph
Wind direction: North