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ID number:  BIRBI-2009.3
Institution:  The Barber Institute of Fine Arts
Artist / Maker:  Carriera, Rosalba (1675-1757)
Title / Object name:  A Portrait of Gustavus Hamilton, 2nd Viscount Boyne (1710-1746)
Object type:  Drawing
Place made:  Venice
Culture:  Venetian
Date made:  1730/1
Materials:  Pastel, heightened with white body colour on paper
Measurements:  59.7 x 47.6 cm
Provenance:  Given by Horace Walpole to actress Kitty Clive; Colnaghi, London, ca.1820; purchased by Thomas Walpole the Younger (1755-1840), Stagbury; Christie's Auction House, London, 8 July 2008 (no.53); Danny Katz Ltd; purchased by Henry Barber Trust with assistance from the Estate of the late Elnora Ferguson, The Art Fund, the Friends of the Barber Institute and the R. D. Turner Trust, 2009

This striking portrait of Lord Boyne, who visited Italy from 1730-1, is one of the most successful and charming Venetian Grand Tourist images. It shows a young Irish peer in Venetian carnival dress, wearing a fine ermine-trimmed coat, a bauta or lace veil, black tricorn hat and a white mask, pushed away to reveal his face. Gustavus Hamilton, 2nd Viscount Boyne was just 21 when Rosalba Carriera, one of Europe’s leading pastellists, drew this image. Boyne was in Italy with his travelling companion Edward Walpole and they both enjoyed the Venetian Carnival in January 1730 before travelling to Piacenza for the opera and then Rome. They returned to Venice at the end of the year which was when this portrait was probably made. Carriera initially found employment as a designer of lace patterns, but soon developed into a painter of miniatures of some note. She was admitted to the Academy of Saint Luke in Rome in 1705, but turned to working in pastel on a larger scale around 1708. Carriera was enormously successful and is credited with establishing pastel as a worthy medium for finished portraiture, rather than informal sketches. Her subtle, sensitive portraits became particularly popular with Grand Tourists from Britain, France and Germany who visited Venice. The artist also worked throughout Europe, with an especially significant visit to Paris in 1720, cementing her reputation with portraits of Louis XV and the painter Jean-Antoine Watteau. Credited with developing the technical capabilities of the medium, Carriera was particularly talented at capturing textures such as the ermine in this portrait and the patterned waistcoat. The embroidery of Viscount Boyne’s shirt is rendered using white bodycolour modified with knifework, reflecting the pastellist’s knowledge of lace and its properties. The work is a major addition to the Barber Institute’s collection, providing us with a magnificent example of Venetian Grand Tourist portraiture and a spectacular work by the leading female artist in the first half of the 18th century. The acquisition is particularly suitable as Carriera went on to influence other female artists such as Angelica Kauffman and Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun who is already represented in our collection.

Notes:  Exhibited: 'Guelph Exhibition', London, 1891 (no.314); Cambridge, King's College, ca. 1923-31; Whitechapel Art Gallery, 'Eighteenth Century Venice', London, 1951 (no.27); Eton College, 'Quincentenary Exhibition', 1956-7 (no.45); Royal Academy, ' British Portraits', Winter Exhibition, London, 1956-7 (no.75); Walpole Gallery, 'Venetian Barogue and Rococo paintings 1650-1800', London, 1990 (no.10); Tate Gallery, 'Grand Tour: The Lure of Italy in the 18th Century', London, 1996-7 (no.13)

Engraved: J. Cochrane for E. Lodge, The portraits of Illustrious Persons of Great Britain, 1831 (as a portrait of Horace Walpole)

9 Related Publications

Rosalba Carriera
Sani, Bernardina

Dictionary of pastellists before 1800
Jeffares, Neil
Unicorn Press
A Dictionary of British and Irish Tavellers in Italy 1701-1800
Ingamells, John

Rosalba Carriera (review of B. Sani)
Russell, F.

Rosalba Carriera
Sani, Bernardina

The Portraits of Horace Walpole
Adams, C. and Lewis, W.

Portrait Problems and Genealogy
Adams, C.

The Yale Edition of Horace Walpole's Correspondence
Lewis, W. S. (ed.)

The Letters of Horace Walpole, Fourth Earl of Oxford
Toynbee, Paget

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