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Premier Auction - Session II

Sat, Mar 26, 2022 09:00AM EDT
Lot 918

After John Singleton Copley

Estimate: $20,000 - $40,000

Bid Increments

Price Bid Increment
$0 $25
$100 $50
$1,000 $100
$2,000 $200
$3,000 $250
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$20,000 $2,000
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000

(American, 1737-1815)

The Death of the Earl of Chatham, after the painting held by The Tate Gallery on loan to the National Portrait Gallery, London, possibly executed circa 1780 by Henry Cipriani, youngest son of Giovanni Battista Cipriani, commissioned by Francesco Bartolozzi, watercolor on laid paper, sheet 22-1/8 x 30 in.; period gilt wood frame, 37-3/4 x 45-3/4 in.

Note: "The drawing from the original picture for Bartolozzi's use in copying was executed in water colours by Henry, youngest son of Cipriani. It was said to be the most carefully made, and the copyist received a hundred guineas and considerable praise." (Tuer, pg.103). This composition has an additional portrait head behind the proper left shoulder of Lord Onslow (#14) who holds a stick (See: It bears some resemblance to Copley.

The historical context is discussed in a note for the original painting posted by the National Portrait Gallery, London. It states, "The painting represents the dramatic collapse of William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham, in the House of Lords on 7 April 1778. Chatham had just delivered a speech urging for a peace settlement with the revolutionary Americans. In order to preserve the empire, he had done so much to build up, Chatham called for any form of settlement short of total independence. On rising, for a second time, to rebut the Duke of Richmond's motion that the American colonies be given independence, Chatham suffered a heart attack. The fallen Chatham is surrounded by his three sons and his son-in-law (Lord Mahon) and supported by the Dukes of Cumberland and Portland. Chatham never recovered and died a month later at his country estate

Lord Camden who was sitting beside Chatham described the scene in a letter to the Duke of Grafton: 'He fell back upon his seat and was to all appearance in the agonies of death. This threw the whole House into confusion .... even those who might have felt a secret pleasure at the accident, yet put on the appearance of distress, except only the Earl of Mansfield, who sat still, almost as much unmoved as the senseless body itself.'

The American Copley, following the example of his compatriot Benjamin West, employed the heightened emotions and grand gestures of traditional history painting to a contemporary event. The portraiture is direct, being based on individual studies, but considerable license has been taken in the theatrical composition and the lighting. The painting excited much controversy when exhibited in 1781."


Bartolozzi?s engraving of this composition:


Tuer, Andrew White. Bartolozzi and His Works: A Biographical and Descriptive Account of the Life and Career of Francesco Bartolozzi, R.A. (Illustrated) : with Some Observations on the Present Demand for and Value of His Prints ... : Together with a List of Upwards of 2,000 ... of the Great Engraver's Works. London: Field & Tuer, 1882. pg. 101 ;

Prown, Jules David. John Singleton Copley: In England, 1774-1815.. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Univ. Press, 1966, pg 437, No. 2;

Bayley, Frank W., and Augustus Thorndike Perkins. The Life and Works of John Singleton Copley, Founded on the Work of Augustus Thorndike Perkins. Boston: Taylor Press, 1915.

Provenance: Knoedler & Co., New York


mounted to larger paper sheet then laid on card, gilt border, some abrasions on surface, toning, fading;